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Full text of "Report of the Special Subcommittee on the M-16 Rifle Program of the Committee on Armed Services House of Representatives"

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Rep. Omar Burleson 

2369 Rayburn Office Bldg 
Washington, D. C. 20515 






OCTOBER 19, 1967 

[Pages of all documents printed in behalf of the activities of the House 
Committee on Armed Services are numbered cumulatively to 
permit a comprehensive index at the end of the Con- 
gress. Page numbers lower than those in 
this document refer to other subjects.] 



T il 0 S 3 a 



•'lOwd^Tcjn * fiff.O 

n-.o - 

Ninetieth Congress, First Session 
L. MENDEL KIVERS, South Carolina, Chairman 

PHILIP J. PHILBIN, Massachusetts 
P. EDWARD II CHERT, Louisiana 
O.' C. FISHER, Texas 
PORTER HARDY, Jr., Virginia 
JAMES A. BYRNE, Pennsylvania 
OTIS G. PIKE, New York 
LUCIEN N. NEDZJ, Michigan 
ALTON LENNON, North Carolina 
CHARLES H. WILSON, California 
ROBERT L. LEGGETT, California 
DONALD J. IRWIN, Connecticut 
FRANK E. EVANS, Colorado 
FLOYD V. HICKS, Washington 
SPEEDY O. LONG, Louisiana 
E. S. JOHNNY WALKER, New Mexico 

John R. Blandford, Chief Counsel 

Special Subcommittee on the M-16 Rifle Program 
RICHARD H. ICHORD, Missouri, Chairman 
SPEEDY 0. LONG, Louisiana WILLIAM G. BRAY, Indiana 

Earl J. Morgan, Professional Staff Member 

WILLIAM H. BATES, Massachusetts 
ALVIN B. O’KONSKI, Wisconsin 
BOB WILSON, California 
CHARLES S. GUBSER, California 
DURWARD G. HALL, Missouri 
JAMES V. SMITH, Oklahoma 

X ■■**»*. 


October 10, 1967. 

Hon. L. Mendel, Rivers, 

Chairman , Armed Services Committee , 

Rouse of Representatives, Washington, D.C. 

Dear Mr. Chairman: Attached is the report of the special sub- 
committee which you established to review the M-16 rifle program. 

I am happy to report to you that the subcommittee was unanimous 
in its approval of the report. 

Sincerely yours, 

Richard H. Iciiord, 

Chairman, Special Subcommittee on the M-16 Rifle Program. 



Letter of transmittal 

Background of M-16 rifle 

Historical background on Army rifles 

Air Force procurement of AR-15 rifle 

Test of AR-15 rifle in Vietnam by ARPA/OSD 

Comparison of AR-15 and M-14 rifles by, Comptroller, Department of 


Question of objectivity of Army evaluation 

Army procurement of AR-15 rifle _ 

Fiscal year 1964 procurement 

Modifications to the rifle ICIIIIII 

Second Army procurement of A It-15 rifle - _ ~ ~ ~ ~ _ 

Army small arms weapons system program (SAWS) 

Sole source procurement of AR-15 rifle 

Acquisition of rights and data ~ 

Excessive profits by Colt’s 

Establishment of a second source of production 

Mobilization base for M-14 rifles 

Vietnam investigation 

Army problems with the M-16 ~ ~ 

Changes in support of M-16 rifles 

Product improvement.. 

Interviews with Army combat personnel 

Interviews with Marine Corps combat personnel 

Ammunition- _ 

Fouling test specification _ 

Increased cyclic rate caused by ball propellant 

Waiver of cyclic rate acceptance test 

Air Force experience with AR-15 

I AIR ammunition used for acceptance test _i 

Further evidence of ammunition effect on cyclic rate 

Report of malfunctions related to ammunition deficiencies 
Buffer modification 

Ammunition deficiencies called to attention of DOD 

Malfunctions related to ammunition 

Quality assurance program 


M-16 training publications IIIIIII _ ~ 

Foreign sales 

Possible conflict of interest 


Actions taken subsequent to subcommittee’s inquiry I 

Findings and recommendations ' 







































[No. 26] 



By letter dated May 3, 1967, a special subcommittee on the M-16 
r fle was established by the Honorable T, Mendel Rivers, chainnan of 
e House Committee on Armed Services. Members appointed to the 
wTn'r 6 were ; Mr, Richard Ichord, of Missouri'Tairman M 
Speed^O. Long, of Louisiana; and Mr. William G. Bray, of Indiana' 
The subcommittee was directed to make inquiry into the^devclopment 
thf^h’ dlstr ? butlor b sa l e > and adequacy of the present M-16 rifle Also’ 
Jn aSr iU te t WaS C1 ] reCted to determine the advisability of relying 

of ,h * 

lfey1“al™Au^Sf2 c S ?ductcd Mm. 

i {; a p ll ^ llst 196 Many contacts or inquiries were receivprl 

by members of the subcommittee. In addition, field investigations were 

u;' -tsase, Calir. , several military hospitals; and throughout South 
e nam. Also, visits were made to the producer’s plant at Hartford 
Conn., and to the facilities of two former M-14 rifle producers Olin’ 
Matlneson and Harrington & Richardson. An interim report w?s 
submitteci to the chairman of the Armed Services Committee on .Tune 
• 1. 67, shortly after the subcommittee returned from Vietnam. 


The M-16 rifle was designed in 1957 by Mr. Eugene M. Stoner chief 

Coi -1 p °The \r 7r' a it ^ - a dm ® 10n of Fairchild Engine and Airplane 
■ i 0r ?'fi j y- 1 6 ^ originally known as the AR-15 was subsenuentlv 
identified as the XM16E1 and the M-16A. Regardless of designation 

Sit” T i he major difference is a manuS assist 


1 = ut /^lowing historical background of the Armv rifle proo-ram 
based on an Army study, dated January 9, 1963. 1 and other informa 
on contain ed m the subcommittee files or the hearing record : 

MUltary^pwatlons^He^lquartRrsfDepartment'of tlie Armv a '° e ’ DePUty CWef ° f Stnff for 



Since the introduction of the .30 caliber small arms round in 1903. the 
T T .S. Army has consistently required that the rifle and automatic small arms 
(BAR and machine guns) fire the same cartridge. The .30 caliber cartridge 
was considered the optimum size for general purpose use for these reasons : 

(1) The bullet was large enough to facilitate development of special 
purpose rounds, i.e., ball, tracer, incendiary, and armor piercing. 

(2) The round was the most powerful that could be tolerated in a 
shoulder weapon and still adequately meet the extended range perform- 
ance required in the automatic weapon. 

Satisfactory performance of the .30 caliber family of weapons in World 
War I led to its general acceptance as a reliable and efficient system. The 
Ballistics Research Laboratory, Aberdeen, Maryland, as early as 192H recom- 
mended investigation of a small caliber, high-velocity system ( caliber .276 
and .25 and smaller) because of the promised savings in weight and possible 
increase in lethality. However, the Army, at that time, preferred to increase 
the effectiveness of the infantry soldier by developing a semi-automatic rifle 
for the proven .30 caliber cartridge and maintain the desirable feature of 
ammunition interchangeability with the automatic weapons already in the 
Army inventory. 

The semi-automatic M-1 (Garand) rifle was the out growth of this develop- 
ment and served very effectively during World War II and Korea. However, 
in 1945 the Army recognized that the M-1 rifle was heavier than desired and 
began to investigate systems which would be lighter and capable of full auto- 
matic fire. By again specifying the use of the full size, .30 caliber cartridge, 
the possibility of designing a truly lightweight weapon was severely handicapped. 
Several models were built, but none was adopted. 

In 1954 the adoption of the XATO 7.62mm round required reorientation of 
the I'. S. rifle program to accommodate the shorter length of the XATO round. 
The T44E4 was specifically designed for the XATO round but incorporated 
the best features of the developmental weapons preceding it. In June l!i. r > 7. the 
T4W wan classified standard as the M-1!, rife although it was recognized 
that it provided only a minor technical improvement over the M-1 ’ The primary 
advantages of its adoption were its ability to replace the M-1, the BAR and 
the carbine while simultaneously fulfilling the NATO agreement with respect 
to standardization of small arms ammunition. 

(The subcommittee notes that the Army requirements development, 
plan 1969-72 provides the following guidance to the Army staff on the 
development of new material : “ Marginal improvements in existing 
weapons and equipment are not desired. As a general order of magni- 
tude. an improvement of less than , 25 percent is considered marginal. 
R. (6 D. projects which, do not promise an improvement of at least 25 
percent should either he reoriented or terminated .”) 

In 195S the AR-15 caliber .223 rifle was first tested by the Army at Aberdeen 
Proving Ground, Port Banning, Ga., and Fort Greely, Alaska. Although the 
concept and the rifle reportedly were well received by CONARO. there were reser- 
vations as to the suitability of the caliber .223 round as a military cartridge. 

The advantages and disadvantages of the AR-15 system led to 
divergent positions within the Army as to its suitability. A board of 
general officers, beaded by a General Powell, was convened late in 
1958 to review the entire rifle program and, if possible, reconcile the 
conflicting opinions. The Powell Board liked the small-caliber high- 
velocity concept but allegedly recommended no further consideration 
be given to the caliber .223 round. They further recommended “that 
the M-14 be retained for the automatic rifle role but that development 
of an A R-l 5-tvpe weapon chambered for a caliber .258 round be 
expedited to replace the M-14 in the rifle role.” 2 3 The caliber .258 re- 
portedly was the Powell Board’s estimate of the optimum small-cali- 
ber round. 

2 Emphasis added. 

8 “Rifle Evaluation.” a study made under monitorship. Office, Deputy Chief of Staff for 
Military Operations, Headquarters, Department of the Army. 


In late 1958, Headquarters, Continental Army Command 
(CON ARC) directed the Army Combat Development Experimenta- 
tion Center, Fort Ord, Calif., to conduct a lightweight, high-velocity 
rifle experiment. The stated purpose of the experiment was “(a) to 
compare the relative effectiveness of variously organized rifle squads 
armed with M-i4 rifles; and (b) to determine the impact of the light- 
weight, high-Velocity rifles on squad organization, techniques, and 

The report states that the experiment “was an exhaustive comparison 
of target hit performance, in simulated attack and defense situations, 
of squads armed with the U.S. rifle M-14, caliber .30 (7.62mm- 
NATO) ; the Armalite AR-15 rifle, caliber .222; and the Winchester 
lightweight military rifle, caliber .224.” The experiment was con- 
ducted by the U.S. Army Combat Development Experimentation 
Center during the period December 1, 1958-March 22, 1959. 

The final report, dated May 30, 1959, contained the following con- 
clusions : 

a. With a total combat weight per man equivalent to that planned for riflemen 
armed with the M-14. a squad consisting of from 5 to 7 men armed with the 
LWIIVR system would have better hit distribution and greater hit capability 
than the present eleven-man M-14 squad. Furthermore, employment of the 
smaller squad armed with the lightweight rifle system would permit more 
economical use of manpower on the battlefield. 

b. By opinion poll, the experimentation troops favor the LWI1VR system, as 
represented by the Armalite, because of its demonstrated characteristics of light- 
ness in weight, reliability, balance and grip, and freedom from recoil and climb 
on full automatic (ease of firing). 

c. The Winchester rifle is comparable to the M-14 in hit probability. 

d. The Armalite rifle is comparable to the M-14 in reliability. 

e. Both candidate weapons of the lightweight high-velocity rifle system are 
superior to the M-14 in hit distribution. 

f. The presently develop'd representatives of the lightweight high-velocity 
rifle system require the following improvements before further experimentation 
with them should be considered : 

(1) Winchester Lightweight Military Rifle, caliber .224, must be rede- 
signed so that the component parts, including the bolt assembly, are strength- 
ened and made more resistant to breakage, to bring the functional reliability 
equal to or above that of the M-14. 

(2) Armalite, AR-15, caliber .222, must be modified and improved, with 
special emphasis on the sights, to bring the hit capability equal to or above 
that of the M-14. 

g. Automatic fire with an LWHV rifle appears to have exceptional tactical 
value when the rifle is fired in short bursts (three to six rounds) on full 

h. The attributes demonstrated by the prototype weapons of the lightweight 
high-velocity category indicate an overall combat potential superior to that of 
the M-14. Such advantages include : inherent characteristics of lightness in weight 
of arms and ammunition, ease of handling, superior full automatic firing capa- 
bility, accuracy of the Winchester, and functional reliability of the Armalite. 

The report recommended : 

a. That emphasis be placed on the development of a lightweight high-velocity 
rifle combining the accuracy characteristics of the Winchester with the reliability 
characteristics of the Armalite, and not exceeding the weapon/ammunition weight 
of either. 

b. That such a lightweight high-velocity rifle be developed with a view toward 
early replacement of current rifles. 

c. That concurrent with the adoption of a lightweight high-velocity rifle, serious 
consideration be given to reduction in the size of the present squad with resultant 
great saving in manpower. 

In January 1959, before the above rifle experiment was completed, 
the Army Chief of Staff, allegedly after analysis of all available facts 

85-086 — 67 — No. 26 2 


including the recommendations of the earlier mentioned Powell Board, 
decided that, the M-14 production would remain as scheduled; that 
the 7.62-millimeter round would be continued unless a new concept 
offered a very significant improvement ; and that any product improve- 
ment would be kept in the 7.62-millimeter caliber. 

As a result of this decision, the Army abandoned attempts to develop 
a conventional small caliber high-velocity system and concentrated 
its efforts on an unconventional system which allegedly promised sig- 
nificant advantages in combat effectiveness. This effort led to the 
special-purpose individual weapon (SPIW) program which it is 
claimed will produce a significantly improved weapons system in the 

The SPIW concept, is intended to combine and improve the point 
target capability as represented by the M-14 rifle and the area target 
capability as represented by the M— 79 grenade launcher in one weapon. 
By firing multiple projectiles simultaneously, or almost simultane- 
ously, in an optimum dispersion pattern, the hit probability or the 
point target component on man-sized targets is predicted to be at least 
double that of conventional rifle systems. The area target component 
will be at least as good as the M-79 grenade launcher. 

The Army anticipated the availability of the SPIW for late fiscal 
year 1965. However, the weapon encountered development problems 
and still remains a research and development system not expected 
to be completed for several more years, if then. 

The Air Force continued to test and evaluate the A 11-15 rifle with 
very favorable results and on May 22. 1961, validated the quantitative 
requirement to procure the AR-io rifle and ammunition. In January 
1962 the AR-15 was classified as a “standard” weapon for the Air 
F orce inventory. 

The Air Force was advised by Colt that the .223 caliber 55 grain, 
metal- jacketed bullet manufactured by Remington Arms, Inc., was 
developed in cooperation with Armalite for use in the AR-15 rifle. 
The Remington cartridge was given a status classification of “develop- 
ment on December 19, 1961. A test was conducted at Hill Air Force 
Base, Utah, on February 20, 1962, to determine if the Remington round 
was of sufficient quality to justify complete testing and development 
for USAF use. The conclusions of the test were : 

Based on the results of this test conducted at OOMA (Ogden Air Materiel Area) 
and the requirements for the New Basic Weapon as outlined by USAF, the 
Cartridge, Caliber .223 manufactured by Bennington Arms Inc. and used in this 
test appears to have the qualities desired in this weapon system. 

Killing and wounding power of the cartridge is excellent at ranges of at 
least 500 yards. The cartridges weigh approximately one-half as much as a 
.30-06 cartridge. 

The bullet, having a high velocity, travels a flatter trajectory than slower 
bullets, giving less vertical error with a fixed iron sight. 

It was recommended that a large sample of the ammunition tested 
be acquired to complete the testing required before adopting the 
round as a U.S. Air Force item. The Remington specifications on this 
ammunition called for single base powder suitable to ballistic re- 
quirements of this cartridge with maximum average pressure of 
52,000 pounds per square inch and an average velocity of 3,245 plus 
or minus 40 feet per second. 



On May 23, 1962, the Air Force awarded a contract to Colt Patent 
Firearms Manufacturing Co. (Colt’s Inc.) for 8,500 rifles, spare parts, 
and 8,500,000 rounds of ammunition. Colt subcontracted manufacture 
of the ammunition to Remington Arms Co., Inc., with inspection and 
acceptance of ammunition to be based on independent laboratory 
certification that ammunition conforms to established commercial 
standards. The Remington specification was the same as that tested 3 
months earlier by the Air Force at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. 

The Air Force change of ammunition from the single base extruded 
powder to the double base ball powder occurred on the subsequent 
procurement of ammunition in October 1963. This will be discussed in 
a separate section of the report under “Ammunition.” 


The problem of selecting the most suitable basic weapon for the 
Vietnamese soldier is complicated by his small stature and light 
weight. The average soldier stands 5 feet tall and weighs 90 pounds. 
In 1961 the principal U.S. weapons issued to Vietnamese troops in- 
cluded the U.S. rifle, caliber .30 M— 1; Browning automatic rifle 
(BAR), caliber .30; the Thompson submachinegun, caliber .45; and 
the U.S. carbine, caliber .30, M-l. 

Reportedly because of its availability and the results of extensive 
studies and previous testing by military agencies, the Colt Armalite 
AR-15 rifle was selected in July 1961 as the most suitable weapon for 
initial tests to determine if it was compatible with the small stature, 
body configuration and light weight of the Vietnamese soldier and to 
evaluate the weapon under actual combat condition in South Vietnam. 

Based upon favorable observations of the AR-15 by both U.S. 
advisers and Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces (RVNAF) com- 
manders following limited firing demonstrations conducted in Viet- 
nam during August 1961, weapons were requested in numbers sufficient 
to conduct a full-scale combat evaluation of the AR-15 by selected 
units of the RVNAF. In December 1961, the Secretary of Defense 
approved the procurement of 1,000 AR-15 rifles, necessary ammuni- 
tion, spare parts and accessories for evaluation. 

The Advanced Research Projects Agency of the Office of the Secre- 
tary of Defense negotiated a contract with the firm of Cooper-Mac- 
donald, Inc., Baltimore, Md., for procurement and air shipment of 
all material. The first shipment was received on January 27, 1962. 
Operational evaluation and testing began on February 1 and ter- 
minated on July 15, 1962. It is reported that the ammunition used 
was produced by Remington under normal commercial specifications. 

To accomplish the stated purpose of this test, it was divided into 
two parts. One part was a combat evaluation of the AR-15 in which 
the weapons w r ere issued to specially selected ARVN units for use in 
their operations against the Vietcong. The other part of the test con- 
sisted of a comparison between the AR-15 rifle and the M-2 carbine, 
The test report contains the follo wing : 


Summary . — The Vietnamese Unit Commanders and U.S. Advisors who partici- 
pated in the evaluation consider the AR-15 Rifle to be a more desirable weapon 



for use in Vietnam than the M-l Rifle, BAR, Thompson Sab-machine, a ml M-l 
Carbine for the following reasons : 

(a) It is easier to train the Vietnamese troops to use the AR-I.'i than the 
M-l Ritle, BAR, M-l Carbine, or the submachine gun. 

(b) The AH-l.Ts physical characteristics are well-suited to the small 
stature of the Vietnamese soldier. 

(c) It is easier to maintain the AR-I.'i both in the field and in garrison 
than the M-l Rifle, BAR, Sub-machine gun, or the M-l Carbine. 

(d) The ruggedness and durability of the AR-I.'i are comparable to that 
of the M-l Ritle and superior to that of the BAR, Sub-machine gun, and 
M-l Carbine. 

(e) The AR-I.'i imposes less logistical burden than any of the four prin- 
cipal weapons presently being used by Vietnamese Forces. 

(f) The AR-I.'i is tactically more versatile than any present weapon being 
used by Vietnamese Forces. 

(g) In Semi-automatic fire, the accuracy of the AR-15 is considered com- 
parable to that of the M-l Rifle, and superior to that of the M-l Carbine. 

(h) In automatic fire, the accuracy of the AR-I.'i is considered comparable 
to the Browning Automatic Rifle and superior to the Sub-machine Gun. 

The report states that the lethality of the AR-15 and its reliability 
record were particularly impressive. No parts breakage was encoun- 
tered while firing approximately 80,00(1 rounds during the comparison 
test. Only two parts were issued to replace breakage for the entire 
1,000 weapons tested. 

The rei»ort further stated that no deficiencies in the weapon requir- 
ing correction prior to adoption were found during the test in Viet- 
nam. although two minor changes are recommended for product im- 
provement. These were: (1) Roughen the surface of the upper hand 
guard to make it easier to grip when hands are sweaty; and (2) add 
an additional section and provide a T-shaped handle to the cleaning 

As a result of the ARPA test, the commander of the U.S. Military 
Advisory Command in Vietnam (COMUSMACV) , General Harkins, 
on October 10, 1002, requested a substantial quantity of AR-15 rifles 
and ammunition to equip certain South Vietnamese Army units. This 
request was supported by the Department of the Army but opposed by 
the commander in chief, Pacific Forces (CINCPAC), even though he 
recognized the AR^15 as an excellent weapon. C-INPAC’s objection was 
based on the cost of introducing this weapon into the military assist- 
ance program and the requirement for other projects with higher 
priority which were bidding for limited funds. 

On March 14. 1963, the Joint Chiefs of Staff concurred in the 
CINCPAC position stating that the AR-15 rifle should not be pro- 
gramed under the military assistance program for Southeast Asia 
because of increased cost, logistic complications, the inferior nature 
of enemy weapons and worldwide MAP implications. On March 25, 
1963, the Secretary of Defense approved the JCS recommendation. 



On September 27, 1962, a report was submitted to the Secretary 
of Defense by the Office of the Comptroller, Department of Defense. 
This report was stated to lie a cost-effectiveness comparison of the 
M-14 rifle then being procured by the U.S. Army, w ith the AR-15 
then being procured by the U.S. Air Force. 


Tlie comparison was relative to general combat use of the AR-15 
by Army units in both normal and special combat situations. The studv 
concluded that the AR-15 was decidedly superior in many of the 
factors considered and in none of them was the- M-14 superior It 
further concluded that in combat the AR-15 was the superior weapon 
Other conclusions contained in the report were : 

, T n he . - Stl ! dy co ^ c ! uded that “taking into account the greater lethality of 
h A ?h-n • fle a, ta unprovenients in accuracy and rate of fire in this wefnon 
since 1.1. ..I, in overall squad kill potential the AR-15 rifle is an to 5 tiin- ' 
effective as the M-14 rifle.” p t0 ° tlmef! as 

2. In automatic Are capability and tactical flexibility the AR-15 rifle is 
markedly superior to the M-14 rifle. ne 18 

fired Caplins. 15 rep ' a ‘‘ e ’ " ith gains iu each case ' a11 standard shoulder- 

nrii'.e 1 ! 116 M ~l 4 is margil ‘al. uf tast, as a replacement for the RAR is some- 
what less satisfactory as a semi-automatic rifle than the M-l riflea’nd is not 

T™. 0, »K 'i'f,"/ ,h " «>» M-70 mmJSSSf “ 

at a low,,fSui *■«** WHO, anti 

8. In reliability, durability, ruggedness, performance under adverse condi 
of in a, t d maintenance the AR-15 is a significant improvement over a, v 

of the standard weapons including the M-14 rifle. The M-14 rifle is wea k m 
of these c haracteristK-K. Earlier reports that the AR-15 rifle is deficient 
performance under Arctic conditions or with rain in the barrel are incorrect 

rifle ££?$£ klfown hm,et. fle ** of the M-14 

M-i4 I rifle. SlgUlfiCantly *° tralD tlle *° Mm with the AR-15 than with the 

scar * >—«• «*. »>«■ -.fl&tSErsswtK 

10. In accuracy, at all ranges of U.S. Army interest for rifles fh 0 ip 
is at least as effective as the M-14 rifle -ind the \p_r ‘ 

further growth potential in this respect. ’ ’ lfle ammunition has 

11. In meeting the U.S. Army penetration requirement the M-14 and \ R 1 ", 

rifles are essentially equal. nu AK “ 15 

12. In the ability of flie bullet to penetrate brush the AR-15 nnfl 5i -!*„ 

are approximately equal and both are adequate. K 1 d M “ 14 rifies 

f at ' l i e ARPA teM (md evaluation of 
the AR-15 rifle by the Defense Comptroller mere based on the per- 
formance of the nfle us mg a single-base extruded powder 1 1 UR) 

0 Aft f er giving (lie report from tlie office of Ids Comptroller the 
Secretary of Defense directed a memorandum on October 12 V.MC 
n the Secretary of the Army stating that he liad seen certain evidence 
which appeared to indicate that (lie M-14 was definitely inferior in 
fn-epower ami combat etlecttveness to the assault rifle of the Smdets ' 
and their satellite forces worldwide. Also, that tlie AR-15 was marked- 

ly superior to the M-14 rifle in every respect of importance to inili- 
ai v opeiations. I lie Secretary of Defense requested tlie view of tlie 

1 epartment. of the Army on the relative effectiveness of the M-14 

the AR-15, and the Soviet rifle (AK-47) . ’ 

fn response to Secretary McNamara's memorandum, the Secretary 
of the Army directed an “impartial and objective evaluation of the 
relative effectiveness of the three weapons to include appropriate com- 
parison tests. Ihese tests and evaluations were conducted on an 
Armv-wide basis, with the exception of the Pacific Command The 
Combat Developments C dmmand conducted the tactical evaluation and 
tioop testing. 1 he Army Materiel Command conducted technical 


evaluation and testing of the rifles. The report was submitted on Janu- 
ary 9, 19 Gd. 1 It indicated that “throughout the numerous reports avail- 
able on this subject it is apparent that opinions and positions are many 
and varied as are their origins. It appears that the divergencies en- 
countered are due to the extreme personal nature of a hand-held 
weapon. Personal likes and dislikes on intimate or personal imple- 
ments are comparable to the variance in preference for rifles.” 6 

The report stated that the study was “based on recently compiled 
inputs that stressed impartiality and objectivity and on past evalua- 
tions that are deemed to have been objective.” 

The Army evaluation went far beyond the request of the Secretary 
of Defense. It considered the weapons and ammunition; logistical 
implications; doctrine and concepts; political implications (inter- 
national and domestic) ; Soviet small-arms characteristics, doctrine, 
concept of development trends; technical aspects of the three weapons 
and the special-purpose individual weapon (SPIW) and the impact 
on standardization. 

The Army evaluat ion concluded : 

An analysis of all data submitted indicated that, of the weapons tested, only 
the M-14 is acceptable for general use in the U.S. Army. The AR-15, although 
lighter than the M-14, is not considered suitable as a replacement weapon 
because : it is less reliable ; it has poor pointing and night tiring characteristics ; 
its penetration is marginally satisfactory ; and its adoption would violate the 
NATO standardization agreements. 

The Army study recommended “that the M-14 be retained as the 
standard U.S. Army rifle until the SPIW can be developed on an 
expedited basis.” At this point in time the target date for initial pro- 
curement of the SPIW, under an accelerated research and develop- 
ment program, was January 1, 1965. 

The Army rifle evaluation considered three courses of action as 
alternatives to the then existing program. Course of action A would 
continue M-14 rifle production until a radically improved individual 
weapon could be procured, such as the SPIW or its equal. Course of 
action B was to terminate production of the M-14 rifle at the end 
of the fiscal year 1963 procurement, to procure a military version of 
the AR-15 to complete the inventory objective as rapidly as possible, 
and to reorient the research and development small arms program to 
provide a weapon meeting or surpassing SPIW characteristics in a 
future time frame. Course of action C was to continue procurement 
of the M-14 rifle and procure, in fiscal year 1964, the military version 
of the AR-15 to equip in priority, air assault units, airborne units and 
Special Forces, and to continue with SPIW under normal research 
and development program with procurement commencing in fiscal year 

Course of Action A was recommended in the Army evaluation report, 
submitted January 9, 1963. The commanding general, U.S. Army Com- 
bat Development Command (the command responsible for summariz- 
ing the results of troop tests in Alaska, the Canal Zone, West Germany, 
Fort Carson, Colo., and Fort Hood, Tex.) recommended continued use 
of the M-14 by the U.S. Army force in Europe and equipping all units 
earmarked for deployment to Europe with the M-14 except airborne 

‘ “Rifle EvaluaUon." a comparative evaluation of U.S. Army rifle 7.62 millimeter, M-14 ; 
Armnllte rifle caliber. .223, AR-15 ; Soviet assault rifle AK^17. 

5 The committee takes note also of the “NIH" (not Invented here) attitude. 


<tnd Special Forces units. He further recommended equipping all air 
assault, airborne, and Special Forces units with the AR-15 “after the 
deficiencies in reliability and night-firing capabilities are corrected.” 

The Army Materiel Command (the command responsible for sum- 
marizing the results of tests conducted by the Army Infantry Board 
(Fort Benning, Ga.), Arctic Test. Board (Fort Greely, Alaska), Bal- 
listics Research Laboratory and Development and Proof Services at 
Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md.) concluded, “based on assumption 
that the two major deficiencies of firing in the rain and in cold dense 
air are shown to be acceptable, easily correctible, or nonexistent, that 
the ARr-15 rifle would be preferable to the M-l 4 for worldwide use 
under the assumption that this would be the initial introduction of a 
weapon into an army." This conclusion was said to be based primarily 
on the fact that the AR-15 offers a substantial weight reduction with- 
out sacrifice of essential performance characteristics. 

The Army Materiel Command recommended that the AR-15 not be 
adopted as an across-the-board replacement for the M-14. It recom- 
mended “that the AR-15 be procured for Special Forces units and 
airborne forces to exploit the weight advantage and gain experience 
with the system, if tests in progress prove it to be acceptable.” Con- 
tinued development of the SPIW program on an expedited basis to 
insure earliest possible availability was also recommended. 

Question of objectivity of Army evaluation 

Apparently there was reason to quest ion the objectivity of the Army- 
wide test and evaluation of the weapons considered. In December 1962 
the Secretary of the Army directed that the Department of the Army 
Inspector General investigate the circumstances surrounding the 
November-December 1962 evaluation and tests to ascertain their 

The purpose of the Inspector General investigation was set forth 
in a directive from the Secretary of the Army dated December 21, 
1962,° which stated : 

In October 1962, I directed that there be conducted an impartial and objec- 
tive evaluation of the relative effectiveness of the M-14, the AR-15, and the 
Soviet assault rifle to include appropriate comparison tests. 

As a matter of the highest priority I desire you to conduct a thorough investi- 
gation into all of the circumstances surrounding the conduct and evaluation of 
such tests, including, but not limited to — - 

a. Instructions (formal, Informal, official, or unofficial) which may have 
been issued with respect to such tests at any echelon within the Department 
of the Army ; 

b. The conditions under which such tests have been or are being carried 
out ; 

c. The conduct of the tests themselves ; 

d. The methods by which the results of such tests are recorded ; 

e. The methods by which such tests are evaluated ; and 

f. The attitude towards such tests by any personnel in any way con- 
nected with their conduct or evaluation. 

The purpose of your investigation will be to ascertain whether there is any 
ground upon which the thoroughness, accuracy or objectivity of such tests, or 
of the conclusions based on such tests, can be questioned. 

The investigation revealed that (not verbatim) — 

a. An informal planning conference concerned with conduct of a comparative 
evaluation of the AR-15 and the M-14 rifles was held in Headquarters, U.S. 

a “Summary of Facts Pertaining to Investigation Concerning Comparative Evaluation of 
AR-15. M-14, and AK-47 Rifles” submitted by tbe Department of the Army, Sept. 15. 1967. 


Army Materiel Command on 22 October 1062, with representatives from the 
following agencies: Headquarters, U.S. Army Materiel Command; Ballistic Re- 
search Laboratories, Aberdeen Proving Ground; Headquarters, U.S. Army Test 
and Evaluation Command; Development and Proof Services. Aberdeen Proving 
Ground; and the U.S. Army Infantry Board. The point was made during the 
discussion of the tests to be conducted and the agencies responsible for their 
conduct that those phases of previous tests which had reflected adversely on 
the AB-15 would be retested.* The representative of the U.8. Army Infantry 
Board, in his memorandum for the record of the meeting, included the state- 
ment, “The U.S. Army Infantry Hoard trill, conduct only those tests that trill 
reflect adversely on the Alt—lii rifle plus other tests that nitty be considered appro- 
priate * * Other written records of the meeting did not confirm the impli- 
cation contained in the statement. All persons attending the meeting were interro- 
gated and denied under oath that the implication conveyed by the statement was 
expressed at the meeting. The Army Colonel responsible explained that the 
statement from liis memorandum for record was not a reflection of what he 
intended to say and could only have resulted through administrative error. 

b. After test plans had been approved and tests were under way at Develop- 
ment and Proof Services tD&PS), Aberdeen Proving Ground, an officer from 
the Office of the Chief of Research and Development telephoned CSATEC and 
suggested that the AR-15 be subjected to a specific form of rain test * * *. The 
AR-15 was subjected to the test, failed it, and this fact was noted in the DAPS 
test report. The M-14 was not subjected concurrently to this same test * * *. 

c. During the conduct of the lethality test- at the Ballistics Research Labora- 
tory, the M-14 rifle being tested gave indications of being inaccurate. The test 
weapon was replaced by another model of the M-14 for the continuance of the 

d. M-14 rifles provided for the conduct of the test at Aberdeen Proving Ground 
were specially selected and showed closer than normal tolerances * * *. 

e. M-14 ammunition used for the initial stages of the lethality tests at BRL 
(Aberdeen) was more accurate than an average lot of M-14 ammunition. iThe 
handpicked ammunition was apparently “matchgrade”). 7 8 

f. Personnel selected for firing the AR-15 were less familiar with their weapon 
than those firing the M-14. thus providing a handicap to the personnel with the 

g. The wooden stock and forearm of the M-14’s subjected to the rain test at 
Aberdeen became swollen and discolored, a fact which was not recorded in the 
test results. 

h. A separate summary report, which forwarded an evaluation of the test 
reports of subordinate agencies, indicated that wording used in interpreting tests 
did not appear to be as favorable to the AR-15 as test results indicated. 

i. The analysis, conclusions, and recommendations of the Army Infantry Board 
test report indicated bias or prejudice against the AR-15 and in favor of the 

j. The test report of the Arctic Test Board indicated some irregularities. 
The report of investigation submitted by the Inspector General con- 
cluded that — 

a. Instructions governing the tests, conditions under which the tests were run, 
conduct of the tests themselves and the methods of recording the test data were 
fair, impartial, objective and nonprejudicial. 

b. Methods of evaluating the test data, as pertains to analytical processes in- 
volved and treatment of certain test results at the U.S. Army Infantry School 
(USA1S) and the U.S. Army Infantry Board (USAIB), were subjective and 
tended to favor the M-14 (USAIB). 

c. Reporting of the test results, as pertains to presentation of the data, mixing 
personal observations with the analysis and the tone of the verbiage of the report 
at USAIS and USAIB, was subjective and tended to favor the M-14. 

d. Attitudes of certain personnel at USAIS and USAIB were favorable to the 
M-14 to a degree that these attitudes may have caused subjective treatment of 
tests results in analysis and reporting. 

• •*•••• 




7 Emphasis added. 

8 Committee observation. 



Shortly after completion of the evaluation of the Inspector Gen- 
eral's investigation and the Army-wide test and evaluation of the M-14 
versus the AR-1 5 and the AK-47, the decision was made to procure 

85.000 AR-1 5 rifles to equip Airborne, Assault, and Special Forces 
units. Since the Air Force was also procuring the AR-1 5 at this time, 
the Secretary of Defense designated the Army as the Defense agent 
for all users of the rifle and ammunition. The Air Force contract 
negotiations for its fiscal year 1963 buy were at an advanced stage, so 
they were allowed to continue. However, beginning with the fiscal year 

1964 buy, the Army was designated as the procuring agency for all 

In a memorandum to the three service Secretaries, dated March 11, 
1963, Secretary McNamara instructed: “so that beginning with the 
fiscal year 1964 procurement only one rifle, rather than separate service 
versions, is produced and that it is produced with minimum delay, 
modifications of the weapon and its ammunition are to be concurred 
in by all four services. Only such modifications as are absolutely neces- 
sary should be made.” 

in an effort to insure this objective, a Technical Coordinating Com- 
mittee was established with representation from each military service. 
A desire was stated to formalize AR-1 5 rifle technical matters at tech- 
nical committee meetings to be held probably on a monthly basis or 
more frequently, if required. The AR-15 rifle project manager was 
designated as Chairman of the Committee. 

Fiscal year 19GJf. procurement 

On April 5, 1968, the Secretary of the Army submitted a memoran- 
dum to the Secretary of Defense outlining the Army’s plans for 
standardization and procurement of the AR-15 rifle and' ammunition. 
The Army stated the plan was based “on the assumption that require- 
ments for the weapon will be approximately 104,000 in fiscal year 1964 
(85,000 Army; 19,000 Air Force) and that subsequent fiscal year’s 
requirements will primarily be limited to 33,500 rifles in fiscal year 

1965 for the Air Force. The fiscal year 1965 procurement will complete 
the total known Air Force requirements of 80.000.” The Army mem- 
orandum stated that General Harkins’ (COMUSMACV) request for 

20.000 AR-15 rifles for Vietnamese units was not considered in view 
of the unfavorable decision of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

The Army memorandum of April 5, 1963, stated that consideration 
was given to the comparative costs of sole source versus competitive 
procurement in developing the procurement plan. The comparison 
indicated that sole-source procurement was expected to result in the 
lowest cost, earlier production, with fewer administrative, legal, and 
employment problems. 

It was estimated that production of the 104,000 rifles under the sole- 
source procurement plan, could be accomplished within 29 months 
after initiation of the program whereas competitive procurement 
would require 33 months to complete deliveries. The unit cost of the 
rifle under the sole-source program was expected to be $125.44 com- 
pared to a competitive procurement cost of $138.74. 

The memorandum also included changes to the then current AR-15 
rifle which were considered absolutely essential. Agreement of all 

S5-06G — G7— No. 26 3 



services on these changes was expected provided it would not result 
m excessive increase m cost, degradation of performance, or delay in 
production. The modifications or changes listed were as follows : “ 

( 1 ) Design a manual holt closure device, 

(2) Redesign of magazine, 

(3) Modification of the chamber throat to assist extraction of 
entire cartridge upon clearing weapon. 

It was said that these modifications were interrelated and could not be 

Other modifications listed and the associated problems were: 

(4) Eliminate slope at the rear right ramp to improve pointiim- 
mght-firing characteristics, 

* (5) Determine desirable rifle twist to improve stability of 


The last problem cited was a dimensional incompatibility of am- 
munition with the rifle chamber. It was proposed to modify the cham- 
ber and consider current ammunition configuration as standard If 
after the chamber was modified, the ballistics of the ammunition 
round were not satisfactory, consideration should be given to modi- 
fying the ammunition. 

The memorandum also stated that it was planned to procure the 
.223- caliber ammunition for the AIM.', competitively, soliciting pro- 
posals from all commercial sources. Military standards specifications 
were being developed at this time for the caliber .223 ammunition. 

1 hese specifications were to assure high-quality ammunition being 
procured by the services in fiscal year 1063, as well as 1064. 

In closing his memorandum the Secretary of the Army stated : 

In view of the current limited follow-on requirements for the A H-ir, rifle and 
ammunition, it is considered that an adequate production base will he estab- 
lished. Colt Patent Firearms Company is expected to have established by about 
1 July 1963, as a result of the fiscal year 1963 Air Force procurement a multi- 
shift capacity of 5,000 rifles per month. 

The Army rifle production base plan was reviewed by the Secretary 
of Defense who, in a memorandum dated June 27, 1963, stated : 

lly conclusions are that the plan is sound: however, some elements of the 
Army cost estimates are too high, and the lead times for the rifle and ammnni- 
tiim are unnecessarily long as is the time required for completion of deliveries 
of the rifle. I also conclude from this review that most of the modifications pro- 
posed in the plan are not essentia] or have already been accomplished. 

Secretary McNamara approved the plan with certain provisions and 
modifications. One of the provisions was as follows : 

To exploit the advantages of this commercial development , the modifications 
and changes necessary to place the weapons system in development should he 
accomplished h y request to the manufacturer concerned in consultation with the 
■weapons designer.’ 

According to testimony and other information received by the 
subcommittee, this provision calling for consultation with the weapon 
designer on modifications and changes was not followed by the Army 
or whenever the designer was consulted it was after the fact and the 
decisions had been made and actions already taken. For example, the 
subcommittee received evidence to the effect that Mr. Frank Yee, a De- 
partment of Defense representative on the Technical Coordinating 
Committee, solicited the weapon designer’s opinion about the decision 

D Emphasis added. 


to authorize WC-846 (ball propellant) for use in 5.56 ammunition. 
The weapon designer reportedly advised against implementing the de- 
cision. The fact of such a conversation was not refuted. Mr. Vee, when 
queried about the conversation, testified as follows at pages 4668, 4669, 
4670, and 4671 of the hearing record. 

Mr. Vee. ... I cannot positively state that I can recall that we discussed the 
ammunition or the propellants in the ammunition ; hut I won't say I didn't dis- 
cuss it . . . 

Mr. Ichord. 1964 or 1965, along about that time did you have a conversation 
with him in which you solicited his opinion on the use of the ball propellant in 
your ammunition? 

Mr. Vee. 1 don’t remember that directly, sir. If he had a recorder — if we had 

a recorder, then I could be positively sure. I am not doubting it ; I just can’t prove 
it now. 

Mr. Ichord. . . . Ilid you not say to him during one of the meetings that the 
Army wanted to have everything, in ball propellant, that they could, in small 
arms ? 

Mr. Vee. Well, I won’t deny it. I don’t remember. 

Mr. Ichord. . . . So, obviously you talked about two things at that meeting — 
primer sensitivity, and also the powder. They are two very closely related subjects 
are they not? 

Mr. Vee. Like I say, I am not denying we didn’t discuss it. I can’t be positive. 
I know that to be the only time — that the big depth on the private meeting was 
on sensitivity. That was the important problem. 

On November 4, 1963, the Army awarded a letter contract to Colt 
Patent Firearms Co. (now known as Colt's, Inc.) for 104,000 AR-15 
rifles. Of these, 19,000 were for the Air Force and 85,000 were for 
the Army. 

Modifications to the rifle 

Prior to the award of the first production contract by the Army, two 
major modifications were made to the rifle. The first and most expen- 
sive was the addition of the manual assist bolt-closure device. This 
modification was made at the insistence of the Army and over the 
objection of the Air Force and Marine Corps. The Air Force position 
on the manual closing device was as follows : 

1. The Air Force does not consider a manual bolt closing device to be an essen- 
tial part of the AR-15 rifle for the following reasons : 

a. The design of this weapon has eliminated all mechanical linkage that 
was subject to binding during adverse operating conditions. Without the 
mechanical linkage, the requirement for the manual closing device is elimi- 

b. During more than 3 years of testing and operation of the AR-15 rifle 
under all types of conditions the Air Force has no record of malfunctions 
that could have been corrected by use of a manual bolt device. 

c. The ARPA tests in South Vietnam did not reveal any requirement for 
the manual bolt closing device. 

d. The recent Marine Corps tests have not indicated any requirement for 
the manual bolt closing device. 

e. The 1958-1960 Army tests of the AR-15 did not reveal a requirement for 
the manual bolt closing device. The Infantry Board discussed this item dur- 
ing their initial tests, but concluded that there was no justifiable reason for 
the manual closing device. 

f. The Air Force has discussed this matter with the designer of the weapon. 
Tlie designer reported that he had considered this but did not find it necessary 
with the free floating bolt. 

2. Modification of the AR-15 rifle to incorporate the manual bolt closing fea- 
ture is considered to be undesirable for several reasons. 

a. The modification will probably add weight to the weapon. 

b. It will undesirably complicate the mechanism. 

c. It will probably add additional parts to the weapon. 

d. It will probably increase the cost of the weapon. 


e. It will possibly introduce other malfunctions into tlie operation of the 

f. Designs conceived to date are unproven and may introduce a personnel 
hazard if the components should malfunction. As designed a malfunction 
could result in the charging handle being driven to the rear into the face of 
the shooter. 

g. Attempting to incorporate a design change of such magnitude into the 
weapon will probably delay procurement of the weapon if proper prepro- 
duction testing is to be accomplished. 

3. During operation of the Alt-15 rifle and other hand-held weapons, it has 
been found that it is not advisable to attempt to manually force the bolt of a 
weapon closed when a malfunction occurs. Forcing the bolt closed, driving live 
ammunition into the chamber not only aggravates the malfunction, but is also a 
dangerous practice. The recommended procedure is to clear the round by pulling 
the bolt to the rear for recycle. The U.S. Army Training Manuals for both the M-l 
and M-l 4 rifles do not recommend manually forcing the bolt closed during a 
malfunction but rather specify that tlie bolt should l>e pulled to the rear to eject 
the bad round. 

4. In view of the above and the fact that the Air Force will have 27,500 rifles 
in tlie inventory without this feature, it is not considered justifiable to include the 
manual bolt closing feature in the AR-15 rifle. 

Both the Navy and the Marine Corps considered the modification 
to be nonessential. The manufacturer (Colt) took the original position 
that the manual holt closure device was not necessary in view of the 
weapon's reliability. The rifle project manager, Col. Harold W. Yount, 
admitted in testimony that the modification was not supported by test 
results but was dictated or directed to be incorporated by “higher 
authority” in the Department of the Army. 

Despite the lack of service agreement and adequate justification, the 
bolt closure modification was approved by the Secretary of Defense 
and incorporated into the production rifles to be delivered to the Army. 
This modification increased the unit cost of the Army rifles by $4.53 
and over the life of the production contracts will cost the taxpayers 
millions of dollars. 

In discussing the bolt closure modification during the subcommit- 
tee’s hearings the following testimony was received (page 4701 of 
hearings) : 

Mr. Morgan. Was this modification justified on the basis of tests conducted? 

Colonel Yount. I was unable to justify it on the basis of prior tests. 


Mr. Ichord. You state, Colonel Yount, you weren’t able to justify it on the basis 
of tests. What were you able to justify it on? 

Colonel Yount. On the basis of direction. 

Mr. Ichord. Where did thatdirection come from? 

Colonel Yount. Well, as many decisions which were made on this rifle, this 
decision emanated from the Department of the Army staff, sir. It was further co- 
ordinated with the Department of Defense, and Secretary McNamara personally 
approved it. 

The second major modification changed the barrel twist from a ratio 
of l-in-14 to l-in-12 inches. This change allegedly was made to im- 
prove the bullet stability in extremely cold temperatures but it reduced 
the lethality of the bullet as much as 40 percent according to informa- 
tion provided by witnesses appearing before the subcommitee. 10 Tlie 
subcommittee notes that the Army now is testing a barrel with a 1-in- 
14-inch twist again. The subcommittee questions the validity of a re- 

in Memorandum for the Under Secretary of the Army dated Feb. 10, 1967. Subject 
‘■Modifications to tlie M-16” signed by Wilbur B. Payne, Chief, Office of Operations 


quirement for a rifle to meet performance characteristics at minus 65° 
temperatures that are identical to the performance at a temperature 
of 125°. 

Recently the Army amended the production contract to provide 2,000 
rifle barrels containing a l-in-14-ineh twist for further test and evalua- 
tion. The subcommittee recommends that this test and evaluation be 
expedited and conducted in an objective fashion. If it is determined 
that this barrel twist ratio restores the bullet lethality of the M-16 to 
that demonstrated in the 1962 A HP A test conducted in Vietnam, an 
accelerated retrofit program should be initiated immediately. 

At the time that Secretary McNamara approved the Army decision 
to procure the first 85,000 rifles, February 1963, it is reported that he 
instructed deferral of any further procurement of M-14 rifles. Subse- 
quently, in December 1963 the Army advised the Senate Armed Serv- 
ices Committee that there would be no further procurement of the 
M-14 rifle. In view of this announced decision by the Army, it is diffi- 
cult for the subcommittee to understand why little effort was made on 
the first procurement to obtain reproduction rights and technical data 
to enable competitive procurement on future requirements. 

If the M-14 was not to be procured and the SPIW was not antici- 
pated to be available for several years under the most optimistic ex- 
pectations, what did the Army propose to procure to meet its opera- 
tional requirements ? 

The subject of acquisition of the rights and data package will be 
discussed in greater detail later in the report. 


In December 1964, the Acting Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, directed 
a letter to the Commanding General, U.S. Army Combat Develop- 
ments Command, requesting a comprehensive review and e valuation of 
small arms weapons systems in being or under development and feasi- 
ble for adoption within the time frame 1967-80. The study was to 
determine whether any small arms weapons system or systems pro- 
vide a degree of superiority over current small arms weapons systems 
sufficient to warrant acquisition by the U.S. Army and to determine 
the specific impacts of adoption of individual candidate weapons sys- 
tems. The commands and agencies having a major area of responsibil- 
ity in the preparation of supporting study material were : 

(1) U.S. Army Europe, Pacific, Alaska and Southern Com- 

(2) U.S. Army Continental Army Command, 

(3) U.S. Army Materiel Command, 

(4) Combat Developments Command Experimentation Com- 
mand, and 

(5) Combined Arms Research Office. 

The study submitted on August 30, 1966, was “based upon informa- 
tion gathered and analyses performed primarily by the USACDC, 
Command Developments Command Infantry Agency under the pro- 
ponency of the USACDC, Command Developments Command Com- 
bat Arms Group.” 11 The conclusions and recommendations of the 

11 T'.S. Army Combat Developments Command, Array Small Arms Weapons Systems Study 


study submitted were stated to be those of tbe Commanding General, 
U.S. Army Combat Developments Command. 

The study outlined five alternative courses of action based on the 
results of the review and evaluation. These ranged from a recom- 
mended procurement of no additional rifles or automatic rifles beyond 
those XM16E1 rifles currently on order until SPIW becomes avail- 
able to a course of action recommending the procurement of over 1 
million XM16E1 rifles as replacement for current M-l and M-14 

The SAWS study with its recommendations was reviewed and ana- 
lyzed by the Army staff and on December 17, 1966, the Secretary of 
the Army submitted a memorandum to the Secretary of Defense out- 
lining the objectives for the Army rifle program recommended by the 
Chief of Staff. These were : 

a. Rifle procurement in the foreseeable future should be limited to the XM16E1 

h. Steps should be taken to permit early replacement of tbe caliber .30 rifles 
(M-l and BAR) in the Army’s inventory with the XM16E1 rifle. 

c. Rifle procurement planning over the long term Should be based on tbe re- 
placement of the M-14 rifle with the XM16E1. 

<f An additional production source for the XM16B1 rifle Should be provided 
in the PY 68 budget. 

e. An active and broadened research and development program should tie 
continued to bring about further major improvements in the Army's small arms.” 

The memorandum cited actions taken to attain the five objectives 
outlined and requested approval of the Secretary of Defense. 

The Army Secretary’s memorandum stated : 

Significant findings of our view of the SAWS study include the following: 
a. The XM16E1 rifle is generally superior for Army combat use. 
it. The current SPIW program is unlikely to result in a satisfactory com- 
petitive weapon as early as previously forecast. 

c. Based on our experimental results, it is likely that some minor changes 
in tlie M-16 system are justified. These include use of a different powder 
grain in the cartridge and a change in the barrel twist. 

By memorandum dated J anuary 14, 1967. the Deputy Secretary of 
Defense approved for planning purposes objectives a , d, and e: How- 
ever, approval was withheld on objectives b and c pending the follow- 
ing additional information : 

1. A comprehensive cost/effectiveness evaluation of a one-rifle weapon system 
versus the present three system family and a mixed M-16/M-14 family which 
phases out the M-l. The study should explicitly treat the logistic implications 
of going from a three to a two and then to a one-rifle family, and the marginal 
benefits and marginal costs of a rifle modernization program which envision 
replacement of serviceable assets. 

2. Tour replacement and distribution schedule. 

3. XATO implications of your proposed program. 

4. Details of proposed changes in the M-16 system with a concurrence of the 
M-16/XM16E1 Technical Coordinating Committee, to include the effects on tbe 
manufacturing process and the availability of production facilities to provide 
a different powder grain. 

Testimony before the subcommittee bv Dr. Robert. A. Brooks. Assist- 
nut Secretory of the Army ( p. 4718) indicated that the decision 
was made last December (1966) to replace the .30-calibcr rifles in the 
Army inventory with the M-16. The subcommittee questions the 
accuracy of Dr. Brooks’ testimony in the light of Secretary Vance’s 
memorandum dated January 14. 1967. which reouested information bv 
August 1, 1967. on items 1. 2. and 3 above, and by May 1, 1967, on 
item 4 above on which a decision would be based. 


Apparently, the decision was made to replace the .30-caliber weapons 
in the Army inventory with the .223-caliber M— 16 rifle. However, that 
decision and the question of ultimately replacing the M-14 rifle with 
the M-16 is not documented by testimony received or information 
furnished to the subcommittee. 


The first major procurement of the AR-15 rifle was made in May 
1962, by the Air Force for a total quantity of 8,500 rifles and spare 
parts and ammunition. This procurement of the AR-15 by the Air 
Force was to equip guard and security forces. Later, in October 1962, 
the Army procured a small quantity of 338 rifles for test and evaluation 

The Air Force procured an additional 19,000 AR-15 rifles and spare 
parts in April 1963. This quantity was increased by the letter contract 
dated November 4, 1963, by an additional quantity of 104,000 rifles of 
which 85,000 were procured for the Army. 

The 1963 decision by the Army to procure the AR-15 was authorized 
to equip airborne, assault and the Special Forces. This allegedly was 
then intended as a one-time-only procurement. A direct bearing on 
the Army's decision to order the AR-15 was the Secretary of Defense’s 
disapproval of the Army’s request to continue to procure the M-14 to 
replace all of the M-l’s. 

Prior to the negotiations for the fiscal year 1964 buy, the Army 
decided to include in its request for quotation (RFQ) a provision to 
obtain a complete technical data package including manufacturing 
rights for the AR-15 rifle. The justification for this action was to 
obtain competitive procurement on the follow-on buy of AR-15’s and 
spare parts, and also to eliminate the high royalty of 15 percent paid 
for repair parts. 

On September 3, 1963, Colt’s responded to the RFQ dated August 
3, 1963, and rejected the Army’s request for quotation on the procure- 
ment of the technical data package and the manufacturing rights for 
the AR-15. Colt's letter stated : 

Should the stum total of requirements for this rifle exceed 500,000 units, ice 
trill at that time consider licensing other sources of production and providing 
manufacturing know-how to them.“ 

Colt’s also stated that it did not intend to propose as a paid of or 
in conjunction with the present procurement of 104,000 rifles to sell 
or license all or any portion of its proprietary rights to the U.S. 

The nature of this response was unquestionably a direct refusal by 
Colt’s in light of the fact that up to that time only about 28,000 
AR-15's had been sold to the U.S. Government and the RFQ con- 
templated an additional procurement of approximately 104,000 rifles 
and repair parts. Subsequently, Colt’s clarified its position on this 
point on September 30, 1963, when it advised the Army that they had 
not meant to imply that Colt’s would never consider such a sale of 
licensing, but as previously stated, “C olt’s will consider licensing other 
sources of production and providing manufacturing know-how to 
them at such time as the total requirements for this rifle shall exceed 
500,000 units.” 

12 Emphasis added. 


A meeting was held in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the 
Army Ignatius on October 4, 1963, to discuss Colt’s refusal to nego- 
tiate with the Army for the proprietary rights to manufacture The 
AR-15 for the fiscal year 1964 procurement. A memorandum for the 
record on the meeting, signed by Lt. Col. Arthur G. Moors, indicated 
that the request to attempt to procure these rights stemmed from the 
Assistant Secretary's impression that Department of Defense instruc- 
tions called for competitive procurement. Further discussion ensued 
on this point and the memorandum shows as follows: 

it was pointed out that the Secretary of Defense had approved the procure- 
meut plan for sole-souree procurement of the rifles and competitive procurement 
ol the ammunition subsequent to ttiis letter. Secretary Ijmatins then stated he 
fully understood why it would he difficult to negotiate with Colt for proprietary 
nghts on such a small quantity of rifles. After some discussion of the problem 
and further review of the background. Secretary Ignatius stated it was his 
opinion we should amend the RFQ to delete the requirement regarding “Tech- 
nical Data Package” for the fiscal year 1904 procurement and that negotiations 
should be continued witli Colt after the award to obtain proprietary rights in 
the event of a possible future requirement. . . . 

The meeting resulted in the Assistant Secretary’s decision to “amend 
the I\ I Q 1 or this buy to delete the requirement ( for proprietary' rights 
of manufacture) and to continue to negotiate after award in the event 
of it new requirement in the future.” 

Tlie ( ominanding General, Army Weapons Command, Map Gen. 
Aelson M. Lynde, Jr., when notified of the Assistant Secretary’s deci- 
sion on October 4, 1963, stated “he thought we were in a position 
where it would be very difficult to negotiate the rights necessary for 
competitive procurement in the future, but apparently the decision has 
been made.” 

11 undated “resume of award" on the procurement of the 104,000 
rifles from Colt's, prepared by J. C Liunberg, Chief, Procurement 
Division, Headquarters, U.S. Army Weapons Command, stated that 
“on 4 October 1963, a briefing was presented to Major General Lynde 
covering the results of the negotiations held with Colt’s. The General 
approved the prices as negotiated and directed the preparation of the 
approval of inward for submission to higher authority" 13 

It is obvious to the subcommittee that the Government never fully 
recovered from the Army’s failure to push through an agreement to 
obtain the rights in 1963 at the time of the first, large military pro- 
curement of the Alt-la. Unquestionably, the Government was in it« 
best, bargaining position at that time and lost the advantage. Avail- 
able information indicated that there appeared to be no particular ur- 
gency to this procurement; it was considered to be a one-time buy, even 
though at least two Army studies indicated a possible requirement of 
well over 500,000 AR-15 rifles during the next 5 years. The rifle was 
procured by the Army as experimental; the proponents for and de- 
fenders of the M-14 rifle were opposed to the small caliber -weapon ; 
and the contractor had no real customer for its product other than the 
U.S. Government. 

Armed with information available only to the Army, it seems to the 
subcommittee, therefore, that the military was in a favored position 
to not only negotiate a binding agreement for the rights in the event 
that a follow-on requirement developed for the weapon, but also that - 
a reasonable price for the rights could have been negotiated. 




:3 Emphasis added. 



Over 2 years elapsed before another significant order for the \ R-1 5 
was placed by the Army. On December 7, 1965, Colt’s was awarded a 

Sn C r?M r ad ^ ional rifles-GS^OO for the Army and 

<>_, 0 for the Marine Corps. The requirement for additional rifles al- 
legedly generated from a Defense decision to equip U.S. troops, and our 
u u n ! ^ letnam and Korean allies with this rifle. According to the 
Ainry, with U.S. buildup of combat troops and the escalation of the 
war m .South A letnam, the need for additional rifle procurement be- 
came apparent. General Westmoreland, the U.S. commander in Viet- 
nam also on December 6, 1965, formally requested that U.S. free 
world and KVNAE ground combat troops be supplied with the M-16 
to replace semiautomatic weapons on a phased and selective basis de- 
termined by unit mission. 


In the interim 2-year period between the first large buv of the M-16 
rifle m 1963 and the December 1965 order for 100,000 rifles, the Army 

Hn-ino° t ,.^ l i 1 f Ch r SeC !i° r r . eacl i ed an ‘agreement to purchase the manufac- 
unn e lights for the rifle from Colt s. As a result, since Colt’s exclu- 
sively owned the proprietary rights, the Army was placed in a position 
of dealing with another sole-source buy of the M-16 with the disad- 
vantage of paying higher prices than if competition existed and, more 
importantly, ol not filling the requirement of maintaining the security 
of the procurement base. J 

i Jh ■ A - ss \ stant Secretary of the Army’s decision to delete from the 
1963 buy the requirement to negotiate for the rights also included 
the requirement to continue to negotiate for the rights in the event of 

ITlSTr 6 the futur ?- Tbe Arm J continued its efforts on 
an intermittent basis to acquire the rights from Colt’s. However, these 
efforts were primarily informal discussions with the result that verbal 
offers onty were elicited from Colt’s as to the terms under which the 
U.S. Government could obtain a complete technical data package arid 
a manufacturing license covering the M-16 rifle. 

The most attractive of these offers was made in October 1964 when 
tour separate verbal proposals were outlined by Colt’s as follows : 

Proposal No. 1 would establish a price of $5,400,000.00 for Hie tech data iwck- 
age on which Colt could give the government a $10.00 credit on each gun a I read v 

m a V 5% roval v ""“"I ^^acts. This costt In'additlon 

igJLV royalty. Counting the number of rifles already delivered and to be de- 
ed under present contract this would amount to a credit of SI GOO 000 00 
eaying a balance of $3,800,000.00 to be paid. The tech datanackflgevoidki'b! 

Credifwoiild ah^h* at an, f tlme providUi e the unpaid balance was made up. 

fo 5 spare P art Purchases. This proposal would cover 

anv technical ilata foJ the n» w, t "'° H ?A' r bur!it TOnt rol, but would not include 
l f f ! blank ammunition, grenade launcher or grenade No. 2 provides for an Immediate delivery of the tech data nackaee 
upon a cash payment of $3,(500,000.00 plus a ?>/,% royalty. In this pn, norl and 

menrw a ouW°cont n inue. entt0n **** ** t<J '*** thc royalty pay- 

£™P”f a J N°- ® called for a firm commitment of 400.000 guns plus 5 % rovaltv 
went for or^Ll Dr a cash payment of $2,500, 000. 00 plus a firm commit- 

' royalty _ ° 0 ’ 000 * uns aud o0/o of « u future procurement in addition to a 4 % 

85-066— 67— No. 26 4 


The most favorable offer-proposal, Xo. 1, when interpreted meant 
that if the Department of Defense would agree to buy 540,000 rifles, 
the only cost to the Government would have been the 5-percent royalty. 
At that time, the Army stated the offer was unattractive because 
there were no indications that Defense would require 540.000 or more 
rifles in the future. It is interesting to note, however, that this deci- 
sion again conflicts with a 1962 Army study which for planning pur- 
poses considered that the AR-15 would be procured in quantity through 
fiscal year 1968. Also, the January 9. 1963, Rifle Evaluation Report 
of the Department of the Army considered a course of action which 
would have required the procurement of 800,000 AR-15 rifles through 
fiscal year 1968. Subsequently, in June 1965 when the Army opened 
the prior discussions relating to the acquisition of the rights and at- 
tempted to secure reaffirmation of this offer, Colt presented a different 

This reluctance by Colt’s in establishing firm terms for the acquisi- 
tion of the rights is exceeded only by the Army’s failure to formalize 
its position and negotiate seriously for the rights. The Army’s vacilla- 
tion in this matter is indefensible commencing with the "stretching 
out of the acquisition of the rights over a considerable period of time, 
the informality of its actions, the indecision involved, and the delays 
of one type or another. 

It is noteworthy to mention that after a 2-year period of simply 
discussing the acquisition of Colt’s proprietary interests in the AR- 
15, the Army in its December 1965 buy for 100,000 units accepted 
Colt’s argument, rather meekly it seems, that, negotiations for the 
rights would be. quite protracted and would certainly delay delivery’ 
of the rifles. As a result, the Army because of the stated urgency for 
the rifle due to Vietnam requirements decided to award the contract 
without including a provision in the contract binding Colt to nego- 
tiate for the rights. Subsequently, on June 17, 1966, the date of 
definitizafion of the letter contract, the Army’s perseverance finally 
showed concrete results as a provision was incorporated into the con- 
tract whereby both the Army and Colt’s agreed to negotiate in good 
faith so that the Government could obtain an irrevocable, nonexclusive 
license to manufacture, or cause to be manufactured, Colt’s AR-15 
rifles. The provision also stated that the negotiations for such rights 
and for the technical data package were to be completed on or before 
December 1, 1966. This, then, was the first time a formal commitment 
was obtained by the Army to negotiate for the rights in a serious 
manner. However, the subcommittee notes that this target date was 
missed by 7 months. 

It is inconceivable that the search for the “right, terms” under which 
the Army would consider acquiring the rights for the AR-15 rifle 
could have continued for so many years without bringing the con- 
tractor to the negotiation table in a formal manner, particularly in 
view of the continued congressional interest in the rights for the 
purpose of establishing a second production source since 1963, and 
the innumerable times that various congressional Members of both 
bodies had incmired into this matter. Time and time again. Defense 
witnesses testified that they understood the Government’s policy. 
They also testified in a manner indicating that active negotiations 
were taking place on the acquisition of the rights when in fact, very 
little was being done. 


For instance, supplemental information submitted to support the 
February 21, 1966, testimony of Lt. Gen. W. W. Dick, Jr., Army 
Chief of .Research and Development, before the House Armed Services 
Committee indicated that “the Army has submitted a proposal to 
Colt’s to obtain the production rights in order that Colt’s will not 
be the sole-source producer in the future” (p. 8363, Posture hearings). 
Also, Secretary McNamara advised the Congress less than 3 weeks 
later when he testified to the committee (p. 7572, 1966 Posture 
hearings) : 

... As far as the M-16 is concerned, Mr. Chairman, I believe I am correct 
in saying that we are already discussing the possibility of a second source, 
and I think I am correct in saying Colt has not made it at all difficult for us 
to obtain a license. 

Yet, the records made available to the subcommittee during our 
investigation reveal that no formal contact between the military and 
Colt’s apparently bad been made on this subject for the previous 9 
months, June 9, 1965, to March 9, 1966. In fact, it appears that after 
a conference on June 9, 1965, between Mr. Paul A. Benke, president 
of Colt’s, and Mr. Kendall M. Barnes, General Counsel of the Army 
Materiel Command, the next, contact on the subject of production 
rights was not until April 13. 1966. On that date a letter was sent 
by Mr. Barnes to Mr. Benke with a draft of a proposed license agree- 
ment, which was not accepted by Colt’s. 

It wasn’t until June 19, 1966, that the Army converted the letter con- 
tract. of December 6, 1965, into a definitive contract. This was done as 
a modification to the original letter contract and increased the quantity 
of rifles on contract from 100,000 to 403,905. The definitive contract 
also contained a section headed “Negotiation for Government Acquisi- 
tion of Technical Data Package and License To Manufacture.” This 
section clearly stated that “Negotiations for such rights and for the 
tec hn ical data package are to be completed on or before December 
1, 1966.” 

It is a matter of history now that the Army finally purchased the 
rights on June. 30, 1967. As suspected under the terms of the agreement 
with Colt’s, the Government will pay handsomely for the rights. The 
basic terms commit the Government to pay : 

( a) $4,500,000 in cash ; 

(b) A royalty of 5y 2 percent of the selling price to the Gov- 
ernment on all weapons and repair parts sold to the Government 
by sources other than Colt’s ; 14 and 

(c) The Government agreed to contract with Colt’s (on a sole- 
source basis) for delivery of 27,500 weapons per month each month 
through April 1968, and each month for 24 months thereafter 
except July, for which only 13,750 are to be delivered. 

This agreement clearly guarantees the procurement of an additional 
632,500 rifles from Colt’s through April 1970. 

There is no question that Colt’s dictated the terms and the Gov- 
ernment could either accept those terms or continue the risk of depend- 
ing on only one producer which could be critical for a major weapon 
m the event of a production stoppage or slowdown of work effort. 
Such a work stoppage occurred at, the Colt plant almost immediately 
after the signing of the contract. 

u Even though Colt’s pays only 3-percent royalty on sublicenses. 


The Secretary of the Army testified before the House Armed Serv- 
ices Committee in April 1967, in answer to a question on the status of 
licensing a second source to produce the M-16, that “It has been a 
tough negotiation.” This testimony of Secretary Besot- (lifters from 
that of Secretary McNamara which was mentioned earlier. 

Under the various Air Force and Army procurement contracts for 
M-16 rifles and the recent agreement relating to production rights, 
Colt's has received orders for delivery of over 1,400,000 rifles plus 
repair parts. Colt’s production capability has increased from the 5,000 
rifles per month objective under the first Army contract of November 
1963 to a present capacity of over 27,500 per month. 


At the request of the subcommittee, the General Accounting Office 
conducted an examination of the limited records made available by 
Colt’s to determine profit rates experienced on M-16 contracts, 

A 10-percent profit rate was negotiated on all production contracts. 
The records and information made available by Colt's indicate that 
profits before taxes were 19.6 percent for calendar year 1965: 16,8 per- 
cent for calendar year 1966 ; and 13.4 percent for the first 4 months of 
1967, for an average of 16.8 percent. 

The General Accounting Office review of a recent Defense Contract 
Audit Agency (DCAA) survey indicated that a prior examination of 
price proposals disclosed a lack of adequate and sufficient support for 
proposed costs and bases for estimating. 

Because of possible deficiencies in Colt’s accounting system, the re- 
cent profit rates experienced, the amount of questions raised by the 
Defense Contract Audit Agency in their reviews of Colt’s proposals, 
and in their review of Colt’s estimating practices and procedures, the 
possibility exists that Public Daw 87-653 may have been circumvented 
m the M-16 rifle procurements. (Public Law 87-653 requires reporting 
by the contractor of the most recent and accurate cost and pricing data 
on negotiated contracts with the Defense Department.) 

It vs re-commended, that the General Accounting Office conduct a 
complete audit of Colt's military contracts to determine the profit 
rates experienced , the adequacy of their accounting system and- whether 
the provisions of Public Law 87-653 were circumvented on their mili- 
tary contracts. 


Subsequent to the Army’s negotiating for the production rights and 
technical, data package, a bidder’s conference was scheduled by the 
Army Weapons Command to solicit interest from potential producers 
of the rifle. Some 25 firms were invited to attend the conference at 
Bock Island Arsenal, 111., in mid-September. Before the scheduled date 
arrived, the conference was postponed to October 3, 1967. On that date, 
sortie 21 industrial firms sent representatives to the conference. A so- 
licitation for proposal was issued to each interested firm. The solicita- 
tion calls for a two-step multiyear procurement of 167,000 M-16 rifles. 
However, the Army indicated a possible desire for a Government op- 
tion to increase this quantity by as much as 150 percent. 

The subcommittee is advised that the technical data package, neces- 
sary for proposals to establish a second source, will not be available 


until January 1968. Direct proposals are to be submitted on or before 
February 5, 1968, with firm fixed-price proposals to be submitted by 
May 10, 1968. Under the schedule outlined, first deliveries of rifles from 
a second source are not anticipated before August 1969. 


During the procurement of the M-14 rifle, the Army established 
three industrial producers and furnished Government production 
equipment valued at almost $19 million. Since the last procurement of 
M-14’s 4 years ago, more than $2 million has been expended to main- 
tain the production equipment at all three facilities in a standby 

In view of the reported Defense decision in December of last year to 
replace all .30 caliber rifles with the M-16 and the subsequent adoption 
in February of this year of the M-16 as a “standard” weapon, the sub- 
committee finds it hard to understand why it is necessary to continue to 
maintain such a broad mobilization base for a weapon that hasn’t been 
procured since 1963. According to information furnished the sub- 
committee between 75 and 95 percent of the M-14 production machinerv 
could be used to produce M-16 rifles. 

In view of these facts, the subcommittee recommends that serious 
consideration be given to utilizing the equipment and facilities of at 
least one of these rifle mobilization designees for the production of 
M-16 rifles. 


Shortly after beginning its review of the M-16 rifle program, the 
subcommittee witnessed two malfunctions during firing demonstra- 
tions on the range at Fort Benning, Ga., and Camp Pendleton, Calif. 
Many reports of similar or worse malfunctions being experienced in 
Vietnam continued to come to our attention. In view of these reports 
and the malfunctions personally witnessed by members of the subcom- 
mittee, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, the 
Honorable L. Mendel Rivers, directed the subcommittee to visit Viet- 
nam and attempt to determine the extent of the problem and the possi- 
bility of immediate corrective action, if such were necessary. 

The subcommittee departed for Vietnam on June 1 and returned 
on -Time 11, 1967. While there we visited units representing all infantry 
divisions of both the Army and the Marine Corps in Vietnam. In 
addition, meetings were held with logistics support and maintenance 
personnel at various levels. 

Army 'problem# with the M-16 

At Headquarters, U.S. Army Vietnam, the subcommittee was briefed 
on problems experienced by several Army units last fall and first re- 
ported in October. At the request of this Army headquarters, a 
technical assistance team consisting of representatives of the Army 
Weapons Command and Colt Firearms was sent to Vietnam on Octo- 
ber 19, 1966, to determine the cause and solution for excessive mal- 
functions being experienced with the M-16 rifle. The technical assist- 
ance team, organized into four units of two men each, visited units 
throughout Vietnam during the period October 21 through December 
7. Classes were held for the purpose of providing maintenance ins true- 


tion to the military personnel. The following was contained in their 
report dated December 15, I960, which was addressed to the Com- 
manding General, U.S. Army Materiel Command: 

In all classes the students brought, their own weapons, magazines, ammuni- 
tion, cleaning material, and accessories. A detailed inspection of each weapon, as 
well as the ammunition and magazines, revealed that with the exception of the 
1st Brigade of the 101st Abu Division, the 173d Abn Brigade, and the 5th Special 
Forces Group, the weapons were in an unbelievable condition of rust, tilth, and 
lack of repair. The filthy condition ranged from actual dirt, grit, and mud on 
various components of the weapon and ammunition tO' a heavy carbon deposit 
on various components. The most significant trouble spots were the chamber, the 
outside of the gas tube extension in the upper receiver, and the inside of the 
carrier key. Questions asked of the students in the 1st and 2d echelon classes 
revealed (with the exception of the three units mentioned) that the weapons 
had been issued to the units just before they came to Vietnam or after they were 
in Vietnam, CONUS replacements had had training in marksmanship only, there 
was a shortage of technical manuals, and there was a shortage of cleaning equip- 
ment, there was a shortage of repair parts, and there was a shortage of officers 
and NCO's who knew anything about maintenance of the rifle. 

The report by the technical assistance team further states: 

In all units there was a lack of attention to the magazines and ammunition. 
Both were inspected during the 1st and 2d echelon classes. Approximately 5% 
of the ammunition was unserviceable due to corrosion and an additional 10% 
would have given trouble due to being dirty. From 30 to 50% of the magazines 
appeared to be unserviceable due to bent or spread lips. 

The technical assistance team also reported that : 

The instruction given by the team, if properly disseminated and followed up, 
will alleviate most of the difiBculties and the rifles will perform well. The short- 
ages of repair parts, cleaning materials, and technical manuals are basically an 
internal problem within Vietnam which can he corrected only by command 
emphasis by USARV and the commanders of the units concerned. 

It is concluded that the malfunction problem with the XM16E1 rifle did exist 
and was the result of Insufficient training of the personnel prior to using the 
wears m : a shortage of technical manuals, repair parts, and cleaning equipment ; 
a lack of knowledgeable officers and NCO’s and an apparent lack of CONUS 
emphasis on maintenance training. 

The subcommittee was advised that the technical assistance teams 
achieved outstanding results as units implemented maintenance pro- 
cedures they prescribed. We were further advised that: 

To spread the gospel, command directives and messages from the Military 
Assistance Command and this headquarters have stressed the need for adequate 
command supervision of maintenance programs. Command emphasis also has been 
placed on the importance of muhitenance through the use of “advertisement” type 
publications such as the USARV Combos Lesson s Bulletin and a special USARV 
Pamphlet < -i>0 — , > on preventive maintenance of the M16A1. The aforementioned 
publications have received wide dissemination to company level in USARV. The 
pamphlet is distributed to every soldier. 

The subcommittee later discovered that the referenced pamphlet on 
preventive maintenance had not. been distributed to individual Marines 
at the time of our visit. However, 5,000 to 10,000 copies had been re- 
quested by the Marines. 

A serious malfunction of the M-lfi was reported to be the failure 
to extract the spent cartridge. The Army Weapons Command con- 
tends that the major cause of this type failure is not the design of the 
weapon, but rather inadequate cleaning and a failure to replace worn 
components. To emphasize proper operator maintenance, the Weapons 
Command, on October 25, 196fi, made wide distribution of a list of in- 
structions that were considered essential to overcome or substantially 


reduce extraction problems. It was suggested tliat this short list of 
instructions be reproduced or prepared on a local basis for immediate 
dissemination to each user of the M— 16 rifle. At the time of the subcom- 
mittee's visit there was no evidence that this had been done. 

Changes in support of M-16 rifles 

The subcommittee was advised by Army officials of two changes de- 
signed to provide better support for the soldier using the M— 16 rifle : 

( 1 ) The bipod carrying case which also contains cleaning mate- 
rial is being replaced by a new individual cleaning materials case. 
The new case is much smaller and will contain a newly designed 
four-piece cleaning rod. 

(2) A recently adopted standard lubricant (MIL-L-46000A) 
comes currently in 4-ounce tubes, but will be available soon in 2- 
ounce squeeze bottles. This lubricant replaces the preservative oil 
and rifle grease. 

These items were not in the hands of the troops at the time of the 
subcommittee’s visit. 

Product improvement 

The serious malfunction reported in October 1066, the failure to 
extract the spent cartridge, was attributed to overlubricating the 
weapon (causing carbon in the chamber according to the Army ) , dirty 
ammunition, and failure to replace worn parts, lleportedly, in recog- 
nition of potential problems, a product improvement program was 
begun by the Army. This program consists primarily of two important 
changes: (1) the buffer retrofit program, and (2) chrome plating the 
chamber. ... 

The buffer retrofit program is underway now, and instructions have 
been given to the field for its implementation. However, at the time 
of the subcommittee’s visit, only 12,500 of the 50,000 modified buffers 
received in Vietnam had been distributed; none had been received 
by the Marines; however, they have subsequently received 10,000 with 
an additional 12,292 recently shipped. All units have been instructed 
to submit requisitions for the quantity needed along with serial num- 
bers of the rifles to be modified. The new buffer is designed to reduce 
slightly the cyclic rale of fire. If this was intended to improve the 
weapon and reduce certain malfunctions , it is difficult for the subcom- 
mittee to understand the lackadaisical manner in which it was imple- 
mented. Administrative issue of the new buffers should have been made 
as soon as possible after arriving in Vietnam with reporting from the 
units after the fact. Distribution could, have been made on a pro rata 
basis ichile accounting procedures were being established. 

The second product improvement, chrome plating of the chamber, 
was expected to begin in August on new production barrels. This was 
delayed by more than a month by the July strike at C olt s plant. It is 
said that by chrome plating the chamber, the possibilities of carbon 
buildup and scoring of the chamber walls are reduced, and cleaning 
of the weapon is facilitated. A test of a few weapons in \ ietnam with 
chrome chambers reportedly confirmed the value of this improvement ; 
however, test data has not been submitted to the subcommittee to con- 
firm this. 

This suggested product improvement , the result of the visits by the 
technical assistance teams, teas approved on May °26. 1967. In view of 


its importance , the subcommittee is greatly disturbed by the time-lug 
of over Ji months before the improvement is reflected, in the produc- 
tion line. The subcommittee observes that if this product improvement 
that allegedly will eliminate or drastically reduce the extraction prob- 
lem, it should have been accelerated and incorporated into production 
rifles as soon as possible. 

During 1967 two additional Army Weapons Command teams have 
visited "Vietnam as followup on the recommendations made by the 
lirst team and to provide additional training and technical assistance 
to the soldier. The latest team was in Vietnam during the first 2 weeks 
of May. Their report dated May 25, 1967, stated that the team “exam- 
ined large numbers of M-16A1 rifles in the hands of troops with 
primary emphasis on determining the status of maintenance, availa- 
bility of cleaning materials, and the condition of rifle barrels and 

The report contained the following : 

The Army units contacted report little or no problems with the M-16A1 rifle. 
The extraction problem still exists to some degree, but the frequency with which 
this malfunction occurs has been reduced and minimized due to the increased 
emphasis on care and cleaning at the unit level, increased logistical and com- 
mand emphasis on making cleaning materials available and the continuing edu- 
cation program in effect to teach the soldiers how to avoid the problem. The per- 
sonnel of all ranks with whom I spoke expressed satisfaction with the weapon 
and agree that it is superior to the M-14 rifle in this tactical environment. 

The Weapons Command team reported that a condition frequently 
observed was the accumulation of thick deposits of copper fouling in 
the rifle bores. “This condition appeared worse in those units which 
habitually fire a large volume of tracer ammunition. In one brigade it 
was reported that 800 barrels had been replaced in recent months due 
to this condition alone.” 

The May 25 report indicated that, all Army units except one had an 
ample quantity of cleaning material on hand. The one unit had recently 
arrived in Vietnam and had not had as high usage of cleaning items 
as the other more well-established units; therefore, its requisitioning 
objectives had not boon as high. It was stated that this one unit did 
have some quantity of all items on hand. 

The Army Weapons Command team concluded in its May 25 report : 

The M-16A1 rifles in the Army units visited were in good condition. Logistical 
and Command emphasis on making cleaning materials available and the con- 
tinued education and emphasis on care and cleaning have contributed significantly 
to the reduction of weapon malfunctions. Amazingly few weapons were found in 
the shops awaiting repairs and no weapons were found to be unrepairable due 
to a lack of parts. 

The major problem found was the deterioration of rifle barrels due to chamber 
pitting and accumulation of copper fouling. The chamber pitting may be due 
to the previous short supply of cleaning materials and previous lack of em- 
phasis on the need for frequent and thorough cleaning. The copper fouling may 
be attributed to the use of a large volume of tracer ammunition. 

The team recommended : 

( 1 ) That both tactical and logistical units continue to stress the importance of 
frequent and thorough cleaning of the M-1GA1 rifle, with particular emphasis on 
the chamber and bore. 

(2) That continued emphasis be placed on making cleaning materials avail- 
able to the troops. This emphasis must continue throughout the pipeline — from 
manufacturer to ultimate user. The selective management techniques presently 
being employed to insure an adequate supply of these items must continue until 


such time as all needs have been met and the pipeline is sufficiently filled to 
permit return to normal supply procedures to satisfy requirements. 

(3) That Division and Separate Brigade T/O & E’s be reviewed by appro- 
priate agencies to determine if the number of Small Arms Repairmen MOS 
42110 (4oB20) authorized in organic Direct Support Maintenance units is ade- 
quate to support the assigned weapon densities. In those units where the repair 
requirements exceed the capability of organic personnel, assistance should be 
sought from back-up support DS and GS units assigned to the 1st Log Command. 

(4) Field Commanders should be advised of the potential problems associated 
with the use of tracer ammunition. Tracer ammunition characteristically leaves 
more fouling in rifle bores, causes more rapid deterioration, and necessitates 
more frequent and thorough cleaning. It is recommended, therefore, that the use 
of tracer be limited to the least proportion which provides the necessary visual 
display for any particular tactical situation. The use of tracer for general purpose 
ammunition should be discouraged. 

(5) That a supply control study be conducted by the Supply and Maintenance 
Directorate, U.S. Army Weapons Command, to determine if present rifle lair re] 
production is adequate to support the anticipating usage of barrels (estimated 
10% per quarter). If the study indicates a requirement above present produc- 
tion capacity, additional production capability should be added as soon as 

(6) That U.S. Army agencies charged with the responsibility for small arms 
product improvement continue to seek methods of reducing rifle malfunctions. 
Of primary importance Is the extraction problem which is aggravated by pitted 
chambers. Pitting and deterioration of rifle chambers is caused by improper or 
insufficient cleaning. Suggested as a possible product improvement is chromium 
plating of rifle chambers. Another product improvement presently being incor- 
porated in new rifle production and as a part of an existing retrofit program is 
the replacement of the present buffers (Guide Assembly, Action Spring (62219)) 
with a buffer of improved design. This program must be closely monitored by 
all responsible agencies to insure that it is completed without delay. 

(7) That the improved lubricant (MIL-L-4(iU00A) recently adopted as the 
preferred lubricant/preservative for M-16A1 rifles be procured and distributed 
to the field as soon as possible. Once made available, every practical means should 
be used to disseminate the proper lubrication/preservation procedures to (he using 
units. In addition to timely changes to appropriate technical manuals, such media 
as 1 J S Magazine and AFRS Radio and TV should be considered as a means of 
disseminating this information. 

(8) That a boreseope, similar to the AMCI Boreseope manufactured by the 
American Cystoseope Makers, Inc., be procured and issued to all Direct and 
General Support units with an M-16A1 rifle support mission to permit closer 
inspection of rifle chambers and bores. No visual aids are presently available to 
the maintenance personnel to perform this inspection. 

I nterviews with Army combat personnel 

During our visit to Vietnam the subcommittee interviewed combat 
personnel from the delta area of the south to the demilitarized zone 
(DMZ) in the north. Hundreds of GI's were questioned on their ex- 
periences with the M-16. Among the Army units visited in the II Field 
F orce area, only two soldiers stated a preference for the M-14 over 
the M-16. Many had experienced malfunctions in the past but few 
were now having any problem. Most Army units were required to clean 
their weapons prior to going out on patrol and upon return. One unit 
of the 1st Infantry Division had just returned from patrol before our 
visit. They reported that in testing their weapons upon return, 20 
rounds were fired in each weapon with only two weapons out of 154 
failing to fire. The two malfunctions were readily cleared by hand and 
were not considered serious. 

The men of the 173d Airborne Brigade stated that they had no prob- 
lems with the M-16 rifle as long as it was properly assembled and 
adequately cleaned. They stated that under extreme conditions, the 
unit commander issued orders during halts and rest, periods for half 


of the men to disassemble and clean their weapons while the other 
half remained ready for action. This practice was repented whenever 
possible. The men stated a preference for the M-16 but indicated that 
it required more detailed and frequent cleaning than does the M-14. 
An armorer of this unit was of the opinion that chrome-plating of 
the chamber would make the weapon much easier to clean. A company 
commander of this unit stated that he had instructed his men to use 
tracer ammunition only when necessary because of his belief that it 
was harmful to the weapon. The unit commander stated that he was 
completely satisfied with the M-16 rifle and wanted no other weapon 
under this type combat condition. The unit had no trouble getting 
adequate cleaning equipment. The. officer's and XCO's of the unit super- 
vised the cleaning and care of the rifle. 

A unit of the 4th Infantry Division that had just completed a severe 
firelight stated that they had very few malfunctions during the fight. 
It was their experience that some magazines would hold 20 rounds 
while others would take only 19. Because of this inconsistency, the 
members of the fire teams loaded only 17 to IS rounds to insure that 
the weapon would fire the first time. The platoon leaders supervised 
the daily cleaning of the rifles and the loading of the magazines. This 
unit believed that the magazine and ammunition played a great role 
in the malfunctions experienced. 

The information obtained from members of the other Army divi- 
sions visited was verv similar with the exception of the 1st Cavalry 
Division and the units participating in Task Force Oregon. Of ap- 
proximately 75 members of the 1st Infantry Division units in Task 
Force Oregon, almost 40 percent stated a preference for the M-14 
rifle over the M-16. Malfunctions experienced were : selector switch 
sticking, stoppage due to dirty ammunition, failures to extract., and 
failures to extract rounds left, in chamber overnight. There was 
evidence of some shortages of cleaning materials. Some men were hav- 
ing to share cleaning rods. 

Of the 30 members of the 1st Cavalrv Division interviewed, 21 had 
experienced failures to extract at one time or another. Some of these 
men lubricated the ammunition in the magazine, which is not in ac- 
cordance with instruction. At least, four of the men interviewed did not 
have cleaning rods and a similar number were without brushes. 

The information received from the. 1st Cavalry Division was most 
disturbing in view of the December report of the Army Weapons Com- 
mand technical assistance, team, which stated : 

1st, 2d. and 3rd echelon Instruction was not given to the combat brigade of 
the 1st Cavalry Division. This Division stated that they were not having any 
trouble with the rifle and requested that the instruction he given only to the 
small arms shop of their maintenance battalion. 

The instructions for preventive maintenance, mentioned earlier in 
the report, which reportedly was to have been distributed to every 
user of the M-16 rifle, had not been reeeived by the men of the 1st 
Cavalry Division at the time of our visit. The units of the 1st Infan- 
try Division participating in Ta=k Force Oregon wore also without 
the preventive maintenance pamphlets and the cleaning instructions to 
prevent, extraction problems. 

Interviews with Marine Carps combat personnel 

Interviews were conducted with units from all Marine regiments 
presently in Vietnam. Of the Marines interviewed, approximately 50 



percent had experienced some type of malfunction such as: failure to 
ine, failure of the bolt to close, failure to feed, failure to eiect failure 
mo5 6 , f 6C ! 0r i eVe, i’ alKl faih,re t0 extract - Of' these malfunctions, the 
“2 i 1 T a fcn ant m ° St f? ous 1S the failure to extract, which com- 
prised about 80 percent of the total malfunctions. Most, if not all of 
the others can be corrected with the individual’s bare hands or by using 

o„i -cfo 0 / ba lT t 1“ t ] 1 ® cas P of a failure to extract, it usually re" 

, a ■ forcefu 1 push of the cleaning rod from the muzzle of the rifle 

bairel. bince the cleaning rods are to be carried disassembled in the 
carrying case, it takes time to locate and assemble the rod before one 
can remove the stuck cartridge. If a soldier fails to carry a cleaning 
nearby necessitates lowing a rod from another soldier, hopefully 

uZ be cr P r rted A eath of , one cor Poral, killed while running up and 
down the line of his squad pushing out cartridges which failed to ex- 

investhmtion 6 0 " J C leaning rod in the S€ t uad > "'as confirmed by our 

■ 2 ™ .'• atta ' i °! l 1 commander, who was no longer with the unit, gave 
instructions to the battalion armorer to issue only one cleaning kit for 
every four men. In case a cleaning rod was lost or broken this meant 
further doubling up m the use of this vital equipment. At the time of 
the subcommittee s visit, this situation still prevailed in at least one 
company. Prior to our departure from Vietnam, cleaning kits had been 
-'1° man that company. However, the cleaning kits did 
the time de ^ n6W " ’ ncant which was reported to be in Vietnam at 

Because of the malfunctions personally experienced or reported by 
others, many of the Marines lacked confidence in the M-16 rifle In 
addition to the malfunctions experienced, much of the dissatisfaction 
with the M-16 might be attributed to a lack of proper train in- and 
familiarity with the rifle. None of the enlisted Marines had possession 
ot preventive maintenance pamphlets, manuals, or other written in- 
structions. Many had received very little oral instruction in the care 
and cleaning of the weapon. While it was reported that sufficient clean- 
lg materials were on hand at the battalion levels, numerous shortages 
were noted at the company and squad levels. 

Several of the Marine units visited had no organized Supervision 
in the care and cleaning of the rifle. In checking the rifle of one Marine 
vlio had returned from a patrol some 14 hours earlier, it was found 
to be clogged with wet sand. Daylight was not visible through the 
barrel. It is suspected that the rifle would have exploded had it been 
hred in that condition. However, that same Marine had fired over 500 
rounds with the M-16 rifle in combat and had experienced only two 
failures to extract. 

Many of the M-16 rifles issued to the Marines contain the new buffer 
designed to slow down the cyclic rate of fire; however, these new weap- 
ons are still experiencing failures to extract. The subcommittee was ad- 

hmtoOfrT A"" t0 1 that the rifles produced after Decem- 

AfArA 16 ,m P r °ved buffer (action spring guide assembly). Tt 

IS noted flint, tllA T*f*OCrvTl rrivnn Ktt \ ji * -t • • 

subcommittee questions the effect this “product improvement” Adi 
hav e on the problem of failing to extract. 


One possible cause of malfunctions of Marine rifles is the use of an 
improper cleaning solvent. The accepted cleaning solvent for the cham- 
ber and bore of any weapon is a commercial cleaning solvent. Many of 
the marines questioned were using diesel oil to clean the chamber and 
bore of the M-16. According to technical publications, this is not the. 
proper cleaning material to clean the weapon of corrosion, carbon, and 
other chemicals resulting from firing the weapon. 

While in Vietnam, the subcommittee received suggestions from sev- 
eral of those interviewed that the ammunition should be checked as 
a possible cause of malfunctions. This was done upon our return and 
is covered in the next section of the report. 


According to Dr. Wilbur B. Payne, Chief, Office of Operations Re- 
search, Arinjq for 26 years the military has been locked into a sole- 
source procurement of a propellant for which the design objective 
was to permit reuse of scrap anti surplus cannon powder. 

Dr. Payne stated in a memorandum of February 10. 1967, to the 
Under Secretary of the Army that ball propellant was adopted with 
a total absence of comparative tests from the time of its adoption to 
the M-16 rifle experience. 

Ball propellant Was adopted by the U.S. military for .30 caliber 
carbine ammunition in 1942. The Army adopted ball propellant in 
1951 as the “preferred” propellant for caliber .30 and caliber .50 am- 
munition. Ball propellant was adopted in 1953 as the “standard” for 
.20 mm., M-50 series ammunition, and also as the “standard” for 7.62- 
mm. ammunition. 

In April 195-1, the Chief of Ordnance directed that all military 
small arms ammunition should eventually be loaded with ball type 
propellant powder which was (and is) produced only by Olin Mathie- 
son. 15 This is a double-base (nitrocellulose-nitroglycerine) propellant 
commonly called ball power and is a spherical grain coated with 

The M-16 (AR-15) rifle was initially developed, tested, and eval- 
uated using commercial ammunition loaded with IMIi 4475 propel- 
lant. The initials IMR stand for improved military rifle. IMII 4475 
is a grade of rifle powder first introduced by the Du Pont Co. in 1936 
for use in both military and commercial cartridges. 

Propellants of this type are single-base (nitrocellulose) tubular- 
grain and employ dinitrotoluene (DAT) as a deterrent coating to 
control the rate of burning. Of this type ammunition it is said that 
the ballistic and chemical stability has been found generally excellent 
both in accelerated aging tests and in long-term service use. The IMR 
powder supplied for the 5.56-mm. cartridge is the same, except for 
minor modifications, as the propellants supplied by Du Pont for mili- 
tary small arms loading since the early 1920’s, and was the type used 
in practically all of the U.S. and most of the British rifle and machine- 
gun ammunition from caliber .30 through .20 mm. in World War II. 
IMR 4475 has also been used in loading 7.62-mm. ammunition for the 
M-14 rifle. Propellants of the IMR type are commercial products 
exclusively of the Du Pont Co. in the United States. 

IB General Accounting Office Report No. B-140977 dated March 31, 1965. 


Between the time the M-16 program was authorized and the place- 
ment of the initial contract, there was much discussion before the 
Technical Coordinating Committee on the problem of establishing 
an ammunition specification acceptable to all services. The first Air 
Force procurement of the rifle was accompanied by a procurement of 
8y 2 million rounds of ammunition loaded with a single base extruded 
propellant (IMR 4475). This ammunition was procured as an off-the- 
shelf commercial item and was produced under Remington's commer- 
cial specification. 

It was testified that this Remington ammunition was the same as 
that used in the l’ifle during earlier tests by the Air Force, the Army, 
and the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). However, 
during the life of this first ammunition contract, the Air Force re- 
ceived adverse reports from various users. Because of these adverse 
reports, the Air Force conducted a test at Hill Air Force Base to 
determine the status of the .223 ammunition then in Air Force inven- 
tory. Approximately 1,000 rounds from each of eight lots were tested. 
These rounds were observed for penetrating ability, function and 
casualty pressures, velocity, waterproof, accuracy, bullet extraction, 
and a mercurous nitrate test- The test report dated July 1963 concluded 
“That the Air Force inventory of caliber .223 cartridges met the re- 
quirement of MIL-C-9963A and performance characteristics for the 
pew USAF specification weapon.” It was recommended that this am- 
munition be released for unrestricted field use. 

The ballistic specification of the commercial cartridge used in the 
development and testing of the. M-16 included a normal mean velocity 
of 3,250±30 feet per second (f.p.s.) and a mean chamber pressure not 
to exceed 52,000 pounds per square inch (p.s.i.). In June 1963, Frank- 
ford Arsenal issued a report based on examination of the manufac- 
turer’s test reports as well as the ballistic testing of chambers at the 
arsenal which contained the following observation regarding the 
attainment of the stated commercial ballistics. 

While these ballistics are attainable, the achievement of the required velocity 
has in experience allowed a very small margin below the maximum permissible 
chamber pressure for most lots of ammunition. For large-scale production of 
military ammunition (should that hypothetically he contemplated) experience 
has shown that a somewhat more conservative margin should be maintained 
between the typical chamber pressure of production lots and the maximum level 

It. was recommended at that time by Frnnkford Arsenal that con- 
sideration be given to a reduction in muzzle velocity which would 
permit lower chamber pressure and a concomitant adoption of an 
alternate bullet having improved aerodynamic design which would at 
the same time improve impact energies at all ranges beyond 100 yards. 
This recommendation was not approved. 

The initial Army technical data package for 5.56-mm. ammunition 
(MIL-C-46381(MU) dated June 26. 1963) was based on the com- 
mercial ballistics requirements with only a slight amendment based 
on further review of commercial manufacturing experience. The mean 
velocity was specified as 3250±40 f.p.s., while the mean chamber pres- 
sure specification remained the same, that is, not to exceed 52,000 p.s.i. 
Thq same requirements appeared in three successive revisions of the 
technical data package. However, an attempt to utilize this specifica- 
tion for military procurement in January 1964 elicited statements 


from commercial producers that a relaxation of these requirements 
was required to enable procurement from them. 

On October 8, 1963, the Air Force awarded a contract to Remington 
Arms Co. for 19 million rounds of ammunition under the I7SAF 
specification, MIL-C-9963A, which was coordinated with the Army. 
The specification called for IMR -4198 propellant and stated that 
I. Mil 4175 was considered an equal and interchangeable type propel- 
lant. According to the Air Force, the specification further stated that 
any propellant meeting the pressure, velocity, and environmental 
requirements of the specification would be considered equal to the 
propellant specified. 

Remington chose to load the ammunition with WCC-846 propellant, 
a doublebase ball propellant which uses both nitrocellulose and nitro- 
glycerine. The preproduction lot test reports met the requirements of 
the military specification and all production lots were loaded with the 
ball propellant. 

After a conference of January 17, 1964, between Government and 
contractor personnel, the maximum acceptable mean chamber pres- 
sure was increased to. 53,000 p.s.i. It is said that this change enabled the 
procurement of 1 million rotmds required but illustrated the likeli- 
hood that some change in design of the commercial .223 cartridge 
might be required if the stated ballistics requirements were to be met 
consistently in large-scale production. The 1 million cartridges were 
loaded with IMR 4475 propellant and were the last ball ammunition 
to be loaded with IMR 4475. 

In February 1964, the Army requested the three U.S. propellant 
manufacturers to submit candidate propellants for testing as replace- 
ments to the IMR 4475. The desired propellant was to allow achieve- 
ment of the required velocity of 3,250 f.p.s. and a chamber pressure 
substantially less than that produced with IMR 4475. Further it was 
required that any propellants to be recommended should not be sig- 
nificantly inferior to IMR 4475 in other characteristics such as smoke, 
flash, fouling, barrel erosion, storage stability, or performance at en- 
vironmental extremes and were to be producible in large quantities 
from available materials in the event of their successful performance 
and adoption for use. 

Based on the tests conducted, the candidate propellant submitted by 
Du Pour (CR 8136) and the propellant submitted bv Olin Mathie- 
son (WC 846) were recommended to be approved for use as permissi- 
ble alternates to IMR 4475 in the loading of 5.56-mm. ball ammunition. 
It was concluded that “cartridges loaded with these two propellants 
afford substantial advantage over IMR 4475 as regards velocity/pres- 
sure relationship.” 

On the fiscal year 1964 ammunition procurements, Olin Mathieson 
chose to load with WC 846 ball propellant and Remington elected to 
use IMR (CR) 8136. After production of approximately 50 million 
rounds loaded with this IMR propellant, Remington again indicated 
difficulties, in meeting the velocity /pressure requirements and began 
loading with WC 846 ball propellant in December 1964. Of the 132 
million rounds of 5.56-mm. ammunition procured during fiscal year 
1964, 1 million rounds were loaded with IMR 4475, 50 million with 
IMR (CR) 8136, and 81 million rounds were loaded with WC 846 
ball propellant. 


In February 1965 the Array again requested the propellant manu- 
facturers to submit, new candidates for the 5.56-mm. cartridge. Du Pont 
submitted IMR 8208M and Hercules Powder submitted its HC— 11. 
Olin Mathieson reported that they were unable to otfer a candidate 
better than WC 846. Of the two submitted, the one loaded with IMR 
8208M reportedly met all requirements and was approved. The Her- 
cules powder failed the fouling test requirement and was disqualified, 
according to the Army. 

The subcommittee notes that samples of ammunition containing 
propellant candidates were received by Frankford Arsenal in Septem- 
ber 1965 for testing: however, it was not until April 1966 that the 
test reports were approved by the Technical Coordinating Committee 
and IMR 8208M submitted by Du Pont was qualified and the Hercules 
submission disqualified. This delayed action indicates to the sub- 
committee a lack of any sense of urgency on the part of the Army. 

Initial production of 5.56-mm. ammunition loaded with IMR 8208M 
began in May 1966. Deliveries of ammunition loaded with this propel- 
lant were not. scheduled to arrive in South Vietnam before June or 
July of 1967. However, the Marine Corps reported that as of August 
10, 1967, the Marine units in Vietnam have not received any 5.56-mm. 
ammunition using IMR propellant. 

Fouling test specification 

The initial ammunition specification of the Air Force and that 
adopted for the initial Army procurement failed to include, a fouling 
requirement, for acceptance testing. A subcommittee was appointed in 
March 1964 by the Chairman of the Technical Coordinating Commit- 
tee to study various proposals for a technical data package for am- 
munition. At a meeting of the Technical Coordinating Committee on 
March 24, 1964, the subcommittee recommended an engineering change 
to the proposed technical data package to include a fouling require- 
ment in the ammunition test procedure. The reason for the change was 
stated “To prevent the acceptance of ammunition which may cause 
weapon stoppages due to excessive deposition of residue on firing.” 
As further justification for this change, it was stated that “Ammuni- 
tion utilized in acceptance testing for Colt has exhibited various de- 
grees of fouling characteristics. In certain lots several thousand rounds 
may be fired from the weapon ( without clearing) without any evidence 
of malfunction due to fouling. In other lots stoppages have occurred 
due to fouling in as little as 500 to 600 rounds.” 

1 he contractor (Colt’s) and the four services agreed that this engi- 
neering change should be incorporated into the technical data package 
with application to fiscal year 1965 procurement. The engineering 
change required a 1,000-round fouling test to be successfully conducted 
on each preproduction lot as a condition of acceptance. 

The subcommittee notes that this specification calls for testing of 
fouling characteristics of preproduction lots only and does not apply 
to normal production lots. Therefore, it is possible for an ammunition 
contractor to continue to produce ammunition indefinitely without 
production lots being subjected to this test once the initial preproduc- 
tion sample has been approved. Under this specification, an ammuni- 
tion contractor could produce millions of cartridges over an indefinite 
time period after the first 1,000 rounds passed the fouling test so long 


as there was no change in the ammunition specification. (The subcom- 
mittee notes one contract with Olin-Mat liieson was for 59 million 

It is the subcommittee’s view that the fouling test should be applied 
to all production lots of ammunition and not just to the initial prepro- 
duction lot in view of the possible malfunctions related to excessive 
fouling within the weapon. 

Increased cyclic rate caused by ball ‘propellan t 

At this same meeting of the Technical Coordinating Committee, 
March 24, 1964, a Colt representative remarked that the current Army 
contract “imposes a Cyclic rate restriction of 650 to 850 rounds per 
minute as a condition of acceptance. The current USAF contract 
(fiscal year 1963) permits 900 as the upper limit on cyclic rate.” lie 
further stated that a recent test conducted at Colt’s using 10 weapons 
and two lots of ammunition resulted in six of the 10 weapons exceeding 
the cyclic rate test when firing ammunition loaded with WCC-846 
ball propellant. Of the 10 tested firing IMR— 4475 propellant, one 
weapon exceeded the upper limit of the cyclic rate by five rounds per 
minute. Colt’s requested that the upper limit of the cyclic rate accept- 
ance requirement be increased to 900 rounds per minute for those 
weapons delivered during April 1964 on the fiscal year 1964 contract. 

IF aiver of cyclic rate acceptance test 

With reference to the shipment of the first 300 guns scheduled for 
delivery in March under the Army contract, it was stated that Colt’s 
had been able to meet the cyclic rate problem through selection of 
weapons meeting the established criteria. The service representatives 
attending the Technical Coordinating Committee meeting concurred 
in the request by Colt. However, “it was emphasized that thiS change 
would apply only to the weapons delivered in April.” This waiver was 
subsequently extended to production in the months of May, June, and 
July of 1964. The subcommittee observes from the delivery schedule 
that under this waiver some 12,400 rifles were delivered and accepted 
by the Army that failed to meet the intended operational specification. 

I here is no evidence that the Army made any attempt to recall these 
weapons or determine their operational suitability after it was deter- 
mined that the high cyclic rate was related to certain malfunctions of 
the rifle. It is conceivable that a substantial quantity of these rifles was 
issued to the troops in Vietnam and could be among those exhibiting 
less than desirable reliability. 

(Following the 4-month waiver on the upper limit of the cyclic rate 
for the acceptance test, Colt’s apparently was allowed to select the 
ammunition used in the rifle acceptance tests. Colt’s chose ammunition 
loaded with IMR extruded powder because of the cyclic rate test and 
the consistency of favorable test results obtained when firing IMR 
ammunition. Between the date of incorporating a new buffer in the 
rifle in production, December 1966, to slow down the cyclic rate, ap-i 
proximately 330,000 rifles were accepted from Colt’s by the military. - 
More than 218,000 of these were delivered to the Army. Undoubtedly ' 
many thousands of these were shipped or carried to Vietnam, with the 
Army on notice that the rifles failed to meet design and performance 
specifications and might experience excessive malfunctions when firing 
ammjunition loaded with ball propellant. It was also kno*n that, 90 


percent or more of the 5.56 millimeter ammunition delivered to Viet- 
nam, was loaded with ball propellant.) 

Air Force experience with AR-15 

The March 24, 1964, meeting of the Technical Coordinating Com- 
mittee also included a review by the Air Force representative of the 
endurance testing data developed at Colt's as a result of the Air Force 
fiscal year 1963 procurement program. The data presented to the com- 
mittee indicated that 27 guns had each been fired 6,000 rounds. Mal- 
functions totaled 55, or one per 3,000 rounds. The parts replacement 
rate was one per 6,200 rounds. 

The Air Force representative, Mr. Aunien, made the following con- 
clusions concerning the weapons being received on the fiscal year 1963 
Air Force procurement program: 

1. Weapons function well. 

2. Require minimum parts replacement, 

3. Good velocity life, 

4. No apparent decrease in accuracy, 

0. Serviceable life beyond 0,000 rounds. 

In testimony before the subcommittee, Mr. Aunien indicated that 
the endurance testing statistics were expanded to include an addi- 
tional 13 rifles subsequently tested. The last 13 rifles tested gave an 
average malfunction rate of one stoppage per 6,500 rounds. 

The subcommittee notes that the reported reliable performance of 
the Air Force weapons was obtained with the IMR-4475 propellant 
even though, the velocity obtained was below the specification of 
3, 24S ±Jfi) feet per second. 

The subcommittee was told that IMR-4475 propellant subsequently 
became unacceptable to the Army and the Air Force because it failed 
to meet consistently the velocity and pressure specifications of 3,245 
feet per second ±40 feet per second and 52,000 pounds per square 
inch. However, the rifle didn't seem to realize this and had performed 
in a reliable manner when firing ammunition loaded with this pro- 

/ 4 / R ammunition used for acceptance test 

Army witnesses testified that subsequent to the waiver of the cyclic 
rate for the July 1964 deliveries, Colt’s was able to meet the cyclic rate 
specification by tightening the action spring. The subcommittee ob- 
serves that the ammunition used for acceptance testing probably was 
the basis for meeting the acceptance test rather than the. reason given 
by the Army. Colt’s chose to use IMR ammunition in their acceptance 
test rather than ammunition loaded with ball propellant. The Army 
position on this matter was that there was no indication that mal- 
functions would be caused by the higher cyclic rate of fire when using 
ammunition loaded with ball propellant. Therefore, Colt’s had the 
option of using ammunition from the nearest source of supply for 

ieir test purposes. The nearest Government producer of 5.56-inilli- 
v meter ammunition was Remington which at the time was loading am- 
5 munition with IMR propellant. However, the subcommittee notes that 
even after Remington began loading ball propellant in its WCC-846 
ammunition, Colt’s continued to use IMR ammunition for acceptance 


Further evidence of ammunition effect on cyclic rate 

The adverse effect on the cyclic rate of fire was further called to the 
attention of the Army at a June 3, 1965, meeting of the Technical 
Coordinating Committee and by a report submitted by Colt's dated 
November 8, 1965, entitled “The Effect of Ammunition Variables on 
Acceptance Testing of XM-16E1 Rifles.” This report was prepared 
by Mr. W. C. Davis, engineering project manager, Colt’s Firearms 
Division. During the subcommittee's hearing it was brought out that 
this same Mr. Davis was formerly an employee of Frankford Arsenal, 
where most of the ammunition testing has been conducted, and he is 
now a technical assistant to the M— 16 ride project manager, Army 
AVeapons Command, Rock Island, 111. The report stated that “During 
testing of production rifles a marked change in the cyclic rate was 
observed to correspond with a change from ammunition employing 
tubular-grain propellant to ammunition employing spherical -grain 
(ball) propellant. Whereas the typical cyclic rate with the former 
ammunition was quite close to the desired rate of 750 rounds per 
minute, the typical cyclic rate with the latter ammunition was sub- 
stantially higher.” The test results indicated that the cyclic rate ob- 
tained with the rifles firing ammunition loaded with ball propellant 
exceeded by over 100 rounds per minute that obtained firing ammuni- 
tion loaded with tubular grain propellant (IMR). The report further 
stated that aside from the consideration of rejecting rifles presented 
for inspection on grounds of cyclic rate, there was a probability of 
more, frequent fatigue failures of the bolt when the cyclic rate of fire 
is significantly increased. It was stated that “there are also certain 
malfunctions which occur more frequently when the timing of the gun 
cycle is materially speeded up.” 

The conclusions contained in the report were as follows : 

t Thera is a clearly significant change in typical cyclic-rate performance of 
XM16E1 rifles, associated with a change in ammunition types, such as those 
represented by M193 Ball Lots RA50C0 and RA3133 respectively. The conspicu- 
ous difference between these lots of ammunition is that different types of pro- 
pellant were employed. 

Weapons which readily meet the present cyclic-rate requirement when using 
ammunition such as Lot RA50C0 will frequently fail the present requirement 
when using ammunition such as Lot RA3135. The increased frequency of failure 
is ascribable to an increase in both the mean cyclic rate and in the typical stand- 
ard deviation of cyclic rate. For weapons such ns those usd in this experiment, 
-none are likely to fail with ammunition such, as Lot l?A50(i0, whereas more than 
half are likely to fail with ammunition such as RA51S5.™ 

Th e difference in cyclic rate produced by ammunition differences is such that 
no controls which might he exercised over manufacture of XM16E1 rifles could 
guarantee compliance with the present limits imposed upon cyclic rate, if both 
types of ammunition are to he accommodated. It can be estimated, from the 
foregoing data, that the upper limit must be extended from 850 rds/min to 
JOOO rds/min to accommodate ammunition of both t ypes. 

The increase in cyclic rate, associated with use of ammunition such as Lot 
RA51S5, can be expected to reduce the endurance of certain parts (notably the 
bolt), and to increase the frequency of certain malfunctions 17 (notably the failure 
of bolt to latch rearward when magazine is empty. The accumulation of data for 
a quantitative assessment of these effects is not yet available, because many 
thousands of rounds are necessary for rendering a statistically sound judgment 
on parts life and malfunction rate. Nevertheless, it is clear that, the present 
allowances for parts replacement, and for certain types of malfunctions, must be 
increased if ammunition such as Lot RA5135 is to be accommodated in endur- 
ance testing of rifles. 

Emphasis added, 
17 Emphasis added. 



The subcommittee was advised that no further waivers were ap- 
proved on increased cyclic rates experienced in the acceptance testing. 
However, Colt’s was allowed to use only IMR ammunition for the 
acceptance tests. 

Report of malfunctions related to ammunition deficiencies 

At about this same point in time, November 1965, reports were re- 
ceived from the U.S. Army Combat Developments Command Experi- 
mentation Command (CDCEC) Fort Ord, Calif., a participant in the 
SAWS study, that an unusual number of rifle malfunctions were being 
experienced because of ammunition deficiencies. These reports were 
later included in the printed report dated May 10, 1966. Included in 
that report was the following section citing “Major Causes of Malfunc- 
tions in 5.56-mm. Weapons.” 

Major causes of most malfunctions in the 5.56mm weapons are attributed to 
an interaction of ammunition (and belt link) deficiencies : 

1. Weapon fouling, judged to be caused primarily by qualities of the pro- 
pellant used In standard ball 5.56mm cartridge. 

2. Cycling of weapons in excess of design rates, judged to be caused by 
combinations of : 

a. Pressure characteristics of the propellant used in the standard ball 
5.56mm cartridge 

b. Factory calibration of M16E1 rifles for a propellant with different 
pressure characteristics than that in the standard ball 5.56mm cartridge. 

c. Mismatch in internal ballistic (pressure) characteristics between 
the standard 5.56mm ball and tracer cartridges. 

3. Misfires caused by too low primer sensitivity and possibly (in the case 
of the Stoner machinegun) an interaction of low primer sensitivity with 
effects of too rapid weapon cycling caused by the pressure characteristics 
of the propellant. 

4. Incorrectly manufactured machinegun belt links. 

a. Fouling. 

Fouling in the 5.56 weapons occurred throughout the experiment. Dirty 
chambers resulting from rapid carbon buildup caused most of the failure 
to extract. Fouling remained a problem throughout the experiment, al- 
though cleaning and inspection of weapons were considered more strin- 
gent than would be possible during combat. 

Inquiry to AMC determined that the propellant adopted for the stand- 
ard 5.56mm hall cartridge is different from the original propellant used 
during the development and service testing of the M16E1 rifle 18 and 
during the development of the Stoner weapons. A USACDCEC test of 
samples from the lot of standard ammunition used in the experiment 
showed more fouling than an AMC provided sample containing the origi- 
nal propellant. This supplemental fouling test was conducted using am- 
munition lots WCC 6098 and ItA 5074. This limited test firing of 12,620 
rounds indicated a malfunctions rate of 5.6 per 1000 rounds for the 
cartridge loaded with ball propellant as opposed to 0.91 for IMR pro- 
pellant loaded cartridges. 

b. Excessive cyclic rate. 

Excessive cyclic rates were noted early in the experiment. In addition, 
surging (uneven firing) was noted when ball and tracer were fired to- 
gether. There was also an increasing incidence of malfunctions attributed 
to ammunition cycling the weapons beyond their design rates. The cyclic 
rates were higher than the design cyclic rates, particularly with the 
M16E1 rifle and Stoner machinegun. Surging also was most noticeable 
with the Stoner machinegun. It is concluded that this excessive cyclic 
rate (through induced cyclic and impact problems) caused, complicated, 
and multiplied such malfunctions as failures of the bolt to remain to the 
rear after the last round was fired from the magazine, failures to eject, 
and magazine feeding problems. 

A concurrent propellant Investigation by Frankford Arsenal showed 
that the propellant currently used in the 5.56mm hall cartridge cycles 
weapons faster than the original propellant. 

“Emphasis added. 


Inquiry to A MG determined thnt, to meet a government acceptance 
requirement, JI16E1 rifles are calibrated at the factory for the gas port 
pressure of the original propellant rather than that of the propellant 
currently used in standard ball 5.56mm cartridges. Interaction of the 
higher gas port pressure of the current propellant and the sizing of the 
gas port for a propellant with a lower gas port pressure is considered the 
reason for the excessive cyclic rate in the M16E1 rifle. 

Buffer modification 

The Army’s response to these reported malfunctions associated with 
the 5.56-nun. ammunition was to design a heavier buffer to slow down 
the cyclic rate of the weapon. The buffer modification was approved 
by the members of the Technical Coordinating Committee as early as 
January 1966; however, it was not incorporated into the rifle produc- 
tion line until December 1966, 11 months later. No evidence was pre- 
sented to the subcommittee that any attempt was made to improve or 
correct the undesirable characteristics of the ammunition loaded with 
ball propellant, even though Frankford Arsenal was instructed on 
March 29, 1966, to continue to investigate the problems caused by ball 
propellant and determine what changes to the ammunition purchase 
description could be made to define acceptable performance with ball 
as well as IMR propellant. To this date, ammunition loaded with ball 
propellant still is being procured in large quantities, and millions of 
rounds of this ammunition are in the inventory of the services both in 
the United States and South Vietnam. 

Ammunition deficiencies called to attention of DO D 

The problems experienced with the M-16 rifle and the ammunition 
loaded with ball powder came to the attention of Dr. Wilbur B. Payne, 
Chief, Office of Operations Research in the Office of the Secretary of 
the Army, in November 1965. After analyzing the problem, Dr. Payne 
submitted a memorandum to his counterpart in the Department of 
Defense expressing his concern over the problem and the possibilities 
that the same problems might exist in Vietnam. He stated there was 
reason to question the wisdom of some of the earlier technical decisions 
on the standardization and acceptance test procedures. The first indi- 
cation of a possible problem reportedly came from conversations with 
the rifle project manager. 

Dr. Payne indicated in his memorandum that “at least two of the 
problems seem to be important enough to warrant further investiga- 
tion and corrective action if they are verified. They are as follows : fa) 
the choice of ball powder in the 5.56 ammunition; (b) primer sensi- 

As to the choice of ball powder, he stated that the decision did not 
derive from any evidence that increased effectiveness could be expected 
and that there was no record of subsequent engineering tests compar- 
ing ball powder with IMR. . 

Dr. Payne in his memorandum further stated : ' 

The symptoms of trouble reported from the SAWS test are as follows: (a ) s» 
the cyclic rate of the weapons is much higher (200 rounds per minute) than inf 
acceptance test or previous engineering test; (b) excessive parts breakage: (e) 
excessive fouling leading to excessive failures after about 300 to 400 rounds. 

He concluded by writing : 

I think it is clear that if these faults are present, it is not only important to 
the SAWS program, it is quite probable that the same problems exist in Vietnam. 

The adverse effect of the ball powder in t lie 5.56-mm ammunition 
was confirmed in a subsequent test conducted by Frankford Arsenal; 
however, no action was taken to recall any ammunition loaded with 
ball powder, or to remove it from t he qualified list of ammunition as 
was done with IMR. 4475 when it failed to meet the velocity /pressure 

Army witnesses before the subcommittee testified that there was no 
relationship between malfunction of the M-16 as experienced in Viet- 
nam and the excessive fouling demonstrated in the SAWS program. 

It is the opinion of the subcommittee that the question of excessive 
fouling being associated with excessive malfunctions of the rifle has 
not received an adequate test and evaluation. Until this theory is 
adequately proved or disproved, the subcommittee is convinced that 
there is a direct relationship between the two. Obviously, excessive 
fouling requires more intensive and more frequent cleaning. 

One of the modifications proposed by the Army to reduce malfunc- 
tions is the chrome plating of the barrel chamber. This will simplify 
the cleaning of the chamber and reduce pitting within the chamber; 
however, it will have no effect on the carbon build-up on the working 
parts of the rifle caused by the fouling characteristics of ball powder. 

In the final report on the Army Small Arms Weapons Systems study 
( SAWS study) dated August 30, 1966, the Army Test and Evaluation 
Command of Combat Developments Command concluded that, “The 
relatively low level of functional reliability of the XM1GE1 rife in 
these tests is not considered representative of the normal performance 
which can he expected f rom this weapon , which has been demonstrated 
in past tests, hut is considered to indicate a need for improvement in 
quality control , in weapon manufacture , and for investigation of the 
effect of amm unition upon weapon functioning .” 19 

Rased upon the results of a field experiment, the IT.S. Army Combat 
Development Company Experimentation Command concluded, among 
other tilings, that “The standard 5.56-mm. ammunition provided for 
the experiment is not satisfactory because of fouling characteristics, 
the pressure mismatch of propellants in the ball and tracer cartridges, 
and primer sensitivity.” However, it was stated that these “ammuni- 
tion deficiencies are judged readily correctable.” 

.1 / al functions related to ammunition 

As early as March 1964, the problem of excessive cyclic rates when 
using ball propellant was called to the attention of the Technical 
Coordinating Committee by the rifle contractor when he cited his 
experience on the acceptance tests when using both ball and IMR 
propellant. It. was pointed out that of 10 weapons tested, six exceeded 
the upper limit of a cyclic rate test for acceptance when firing ball 
propellant, whereas one of 10 tested exceeded the cyclic rate when 
Rising IMR propellant. At that time, the contractor requested, and 
The Technical Coordinating Committee approved, a waiver of the 
‘‘upper cyclic rate limit for acceptance purposes of those rifles delivered 
in April. Subsequently, it was necessary to extend the waiver for 
the months of May, June, and July. After that time, the contractor 
used only IMR propellants for the cyclic rate test, thereby qualifying 
the rifles for delivery to the Army. 

16 Emphasis added. 


The relationship between high cyclic rates and ball propellant am- 
munition was again called to the attention of Army officials in June 
1965 by Colt's and in November 1965 by a test report submitted by 
Colt’s citing the exceedingly high cyclic rate when using ball propel- 
lant for test acceptance purposes. In view of their favorable experience 
in 1964 in obtaining a waiver in this area, Colt again suggested raising 
the upper cyclic rate limit by 150 rounds per minute to accommodate 
both IMR and ball propellant ammunition. Colt’s test concluded that 
for weapons such as those used in their experiment, none are likely to 
fail with IMR. whereas more than one-half are likely to fail with ball 
ammunition. This report also pointed out that fatigue failures of the 
bolt are somewhat more frequent when the cyclic rate of fire is sig- 
nificantly increased. 

Colt’s reported there are also certain malfunctions which occur more 
frequently when the timing of the gun cycle is materially speeded up. 
Especially there is increased frequency of the failure of the bolt catch 
to arrest the bolt after firing the last round in a magazine. 

This relationship of ball propellant ammunition and excessive cyclic 
rates and broken parts was also confirmed in the early reports from 
the test agencies participating in the SAWS study, in particular the 
reports from the Combat Developments Command Experimentation 
Center at Fort Ord, Calif. The relationship was further confirmed by 
tests conducted at Frankford Arsenal in December 1965 20 as well as 
later reports from Colt’s in January and March of 1966. 

Another cause of malfunctions was called to the Army’s attention 
in the same March 1964 meeting of the Technical Coordinating Com- 
mittee when it was reported that ammunition utilized in acceptance 
testing at Colt’s had exhibited various degrees of fouling characteris- 
tics. It was stated that in certain lots several thousand rounds may be 
tired from weapons (without cleaning) without any evidence of mal- 
function due to fouling. In other lots, stoppages occurred due to fouling 
in as little as 500 to 600 rounds. 

The subcommittee notes that at that point in time, March 1964. the 
ammunition specification failed to include restrictions against fouling 
caused by the ammunition. Subsequently the specification was amended 
to include a 1,000 round fouling test to be successfully conducted on 
each preproduction lot as a condition of acceptance. This requirement 
applies only to the preproduction lot as a condition of acceptance 
and not to follow-on production quantities. However, as pointed out to 
the subcommittee, unless close quality control is maintained in the 
loading of each lot of cartridges, the chemical composition and per- 
formance characteristics can differ. It is inconceivable that the Army 
would accept as many as 59 million cartridges on the basis of testing 
only one preproduction lot, 


Prior to the receipt by Colt’s of the first Army contract on November 
4, 1963, Colt’s had no formal detailed quality assurance procedures 
tor the inspection of AR-15 rifles, including those sold to the U.S. 

teat J eport , date( l February 1960. It pointed out that the malfunction anti 
e ? per 1.000 rounds were 18.5 and 5.2, respectively, when firing ammunition 
loaded with IMR p?opeflant. VerSUS 3-2 aDd °' 75, respectl7cl - v when bring ammunition 


Air Force, The Army contract, however, contained requirements for 
a quality assurance program which Colt’s was required to submit to 
the Government for approval. Representatives of Springfield Armory, 
Boston Procurement District, and Army Weapons Command, assisted 
Colt’s personnel in preparing a quality' assurance program which the 
Army approved on February 7, 1964. 

Reports prepared by Army Weapons Command personnel in con- 
nection with their periodic surveillance of Colt’s quality assurance 
program indicate that during 1964 Colt’s experienced certain diffi- 
culties in implementing the approved quality assurance program. 
These difficulties ranged from failing to coat all metallic surfaces with 
preservative oil after cleaning the rifle to an uneven flow of material, 
resulting in rush and jamups toward the end of the month in an effort 
to meet commitments. It wasn’t until February 1965 that Colt’s quality 
assurance program was concluded to be generally satisfactory in oper- 
ation and conformance. During the balance of 1965 and through 1966, 
Colt’s received satisfactory ratings from the Springfield Armory teams 
who periodically reviewed their quality assurance program. 

Generally, the quality assurance procedures at Colt’s now consist of 
both visual and functional examinations of all raw materials, pur- 
chased parts and parts manufactured by Colt’s for the M-16 rifle as 
well as finished products, that is, rifles and spare parts. Visual exam- 
inations include the inspector’s insuring that the proper type or 
quantity of gages are at each work station and insuring that the proper 
operation tags are attached to the various machines. Examples of 
functional examinations include the inspector’s witnessing rifles fired 
for target and accuracy and the inspector’s changing of parts in 
rifles to insure interchangeability. 

At the request of the subcommittee, General Accounting Office repre- 
sentatives made a limited review of Colt’s quality assurance program 
currently in effect and found no instances where the contractor was 
not properly following the approved program. 

The Government supervisory inspector at Colt’s plant, Mr. Christo 
W. Kantany, appeared as a witness before the subcommittee. Mr. 
Kantany testified that the current quality assurance procedures at 
Colt’s production and assembly facilities are adequate. However, he 
recommended returning to the previous function firing test of 40 
rounds, compared to the present practice of firing only 20 rounds. 

Another suggestion made by Mr. Kantany was to take a large sample 
of production rifles, “say 500'to 1,000,” and fire each of these weapons 
200 to 300 rounds apiece. In this manner one can readily determine 
what the problems are with the M-16 rifle. 

Mr. Kantany also testified that he did not receive any instructions 
from anyone to tighten inspection procedures when reports of exces- 
sive malfunctions were received from Vietnam. He took the initiative 
upon reading newspaper accounts of the problems in March or April, 
some 6 months or more after reports were submitted to the Army 
Materiel Command and the rifle project manager. Mr. Kantany tight- 
ened the inspection procedure on the chamber of the barrel. He testi- 
fied that out of a 50-barrel sample, 12 were defective. This was said to 
be higher rejects than normally experienced under quality control 

Mr. Kantany is to be commended for taking the initiative in this 
vital area of responsibility. 



With respect to the question of the possible connection between rifle 
malfunctions and proper lubrication, the subcommittee views with 
concern the following- facts : 

1. After months of unequivocally defending the authorized rifle and 
small arms lubricant (known as VV-L-800 or PL Special ) being issued 
in Vietnam, the Army has acknowledged in its report dated June 1967, 
that a better lubricant for the difficult environmental conditions of 
Vietnam has existed in the inventory since 1959, and since late May 
has been rushing it out to the troops. 

2. The special qualities of this purportedly superior lubricant 
( known as MIL-L-46000A) became known to the Army, according to 
its own account, as the result of tests designed specifically to weigh the 
claims of a commercial, molybdenum disulfide base lubricant (known 
as Dri-Slide), which has won considerable acclaim from many of the 
troops in Vietnam who have procured it by mail order at their own 
expense and inconvenience. Without such outside stimulus there is no 
indication as to when the Army would have reviewed the lubricating 
qualities of MIL-L-46000A and considered making it available for 
use in Vietnam. 

3. As a further result of this special Army test it was discovered 
that the official rifle maintenance instructions were improper in that 
the lubricant was required to be sparingly applied to certain parts of 
the M-16; and revised instructions prescribing liberal lubrication have 
been issued as of June 2, 1967. 

4. In 1966 the Marine Corps tested, approved, and procured ap- 
proximately 100,000 units of Dri-Slide as a supplemental lubricant 
for use in Vietnam along with the authorized lubricant (VV-1-800). 
According to testimony before the subcommittee on May 16, Marine 
Corps spokesmen reported that the troop response to Dri-Slide was 
“very enthusiastic” and that they were in the process of reordering this 
type of lubricant. It was also stated that a test was being made of the 
new Army lubricant MIL-L-46000A. In a memorandum dated July 
24, 1967, the Commandant of the Marine Corps announced, in releas- 
ing the final report of this test that : 

a. Mil-L-46000A would replace VV-L-800 as the “standard 
general purpose lubricant for all small arms.” 

b. Contrary to the findings of the. test and the recommendation 
of the testing facility, the supplemental lubricant (Dri-Slide) 
would not be retained m the supply system. 

In testimony before- the subcommittee on August 8-9, this test, which 
was identical in scope to the one conducted in 1966, was acknowledged 
by Marine Corps representatives to have shown that Dri-Slide was 
“significantly more effective” under dry, sandy conditions and “equally 
effective” as MIL-L— 16000A on the M-16 and M-16A1 rifles under 
muddy water conditions. However, when questioned as to why the 
Marine Corps did not accept the results of its own test, the witness dis- 
closed that certain test findings were subsequently rejected on the basis 
of a further analysis ordered by the Marine Corps. Upon request a copy 
of this analysis was submitted for the record and the document bears 
the date of June 30, 1967. Since the final test report dated July 24, 1967, 
contains no reference to such an analysis or any suggestion that the 
test was invalid in any way, the subcommittee can only conclude that it 


was m i s led by the witness when told that further analysis had caused 
tluf Marine Corps to reject the results of its own test. To compound 
matte, £ tW» s*.!,» Marine Corps analysis, it was learned after study, 

raised questions about the 1967 Army lubricant test as well. 

Therefore in view of the confused, uncoordinated, crisis-oriented, 
self-ZStiV manner which has characterized all too much the ham 
SiU of tl'e .natter of rifle lubrication, so vital to the we fare ot the 
foot soldier in the field, the subcommittee recommends that . 

TI, % S “S£i°e D ,nTnd7pendent research facility, to conduct a 
thorough analysis of the tests procedures of the various sen ices to 
ascertain their reliability; and to conduct such additional tests ot 
such lubricants as are found necessary to clearly establish then ef- 
fectiveness as lubricants under various conditions. . 

I Initiate efforts to improve coordination among the ^eixu 

oSderfy* continuous research and development pro- 
7am In the field ofVeapons lubricants ; and to report the com- 
inittee the steps lie lias undertaken to accomplish tins. 

M-1G training publications 

Vt the present time the two major publications providing training 
anf^hiEce instructions on the M-jfnh." 

...... 1 FM-23-9. and a technical manual l M-9-1005-.fW-i.‘±. .in ex 

‘ ••nation of the manuals indicates unnecessary duplication on one 
hand while providing a lack of information and instructions on an- 
; • For instance the field manual fails to contain adequate instruc- 

tion on stoppa-es and actions for correction. Also, certain training 
publications appear to provide misleading instructions in that 
language tends to oversell the reliability, of the id e. 

Examples of this language are as follows : 

This weapon requires the least maintenance of any type weapon within the 

A Th y isrifle wilS longer without cleaning or oiling than any other known rifle. 
An occasional cleaning will keep the weapon functioning indefinite*. 

Working parts can be cleaned hy wiping ith a clean c 
The recent experience in Vietnam tends to refute the above statements. 
In fact military personnel are now instructed to provide what some 
consider to be an excessive amount of care and cleaning of the weapon. 

( ’no si deration should be given to consolidating into one publication 
the field and technical manuals to provide consistency of information 

“"TmSgScUon^t all levels should emphasise lh, W« 
and cleaning of the rifle in view of tlie characteristics of the ammuni- 
tion utilized. 

foreign sales 

Since the AR-15 rifle has been in production by Colt’s line., ap- 
proximately 55 foreign countries have procured or awepted s a 
SSL test and evaluation. Two exceptions from the standpoint 
of quantity are England and Singapore. In these two instances, J5n 
land received 6,000 rifles in 1965 and Singapore is to receive 20,300 

<1U fSdS?S™ y has snppM snWan.ialquan.itiesolM-lflAl 
rifles to our allies fighting in Southeast Asia. 


The one sale causing the subcommittee to be greatly concerned was 
that of 20,300 rifles to Singapore. The concern was not one of fear that 
the weapons would fall into unfriendly hands or that the security 
forces of Singapore should not be equipped with a modern and ef- 
ficient weapon, but whether or not the U.S. inventory of this weapon 
was sufficient to provide the quantities needed for our fighting forces 
in South Vietnam, including United States and allies. In addition 
there existed at the time of the approval of the Singapore sale an 
unfulfilled requirement for M-1G rifles for training of U.S. military 
personnel prior to their deployment to Southeast Asia and for equip- 
ping support units in Southeast. Asia. 

State Department witnesses admitted in testimony that someone 
‘•goofed” in failing to obtain proper approval from the Department 
of Defense prior to issuing the export license. Subsequent to that in- 
stance the coordinating instructions have been reemphasized and now 
require approval of the military department involved prior to the is- 
suances of export license for weapons. 


Maj. Gen. Nelson M. Lynde, Jr., U.S. Army, retired, was command- 
mg general of the Army Weapons 'Command from May 16, 1962, until 
February 29, 1964, the date of his retirement. From March 1963, at 
which time the Technical Coordinating Committee was established and 
Lt. ( ol. Harold W. T ount was designated rifle project manager under 
the Army Weapons Command which reported to the Army Material 
Command, General Lynde’s Command was directly involved in the 
negotiations for procurement of the M-16 rifle. General Lynde testi- 
fied that he was responsible for the development, procurement, and 
field service support of Army weapons. 

As previously mentioned in the report, General Lynde on October 4, 
1963, is recorded as approving the prices as negotiated and directed 
the preparation of approval of award for submission to higher 

On October 31, 1963, 4 days before the award of the initial letter 
contract for production of 104,000 rifles for the Army and the Air 
Force, General Lynde appointed his deputy, Brig. Gen. Roland B. 
Anderson, as the contracting officer on the' one-time basis to permit 
the award of the contract to the Colt’s Patent Firearms Manufactur- 
ing Co. He stated that his reason for the appointment was that, he 
would be absent from the command at the time of the contract award. 

General Lynde retired from the Army on March 1. 1964. Two days 
before his retirement he sought an opinion of the Army Adjutant 
General regarding an offer of employment from the Fairbanks Whit- 
ney Corp.j the parent company to Colt’s. He indicated in his letter 
to the Adjutant General that he was the head of the procurement ac- 
tivity as commanding general of the U.S. Army Weapons Command 
during the negotiation, evaluation, and recommendation for award 
and award of Contract DA-11-199-AMC-508 ( Y) . He also indicated 
that the “proposed employment does not contemplate, nor would I, 
of course, engage in any activity with regards to the M-16 rifle where 
the U.S. Government might be directly involved.” He indicated fur- 
iher that the offer must be accepted on or before March 15. 1964. 


The Adjutant General's letter of reply was dated March 5, 1964. It 
is as follows : 

Your letter indicates that you will be employed by the Fairbanks Whitney 
Corporation as an executive consultant accountable to the president for profes- 
sional and technical guidance to the Corporation and/or its subsidiaries, in 
planning for new products for the future and in evaluating current product or 
projects, particularly in the area of military weapons. It does not appear from the 
position description submitted with your letter that your duties will require you 
to sell any property or service to the United States. If conclusions are cor- 
rect, then your employment will not be contrary to any pex-tinent laws or regu- 

Since it appears that you were involved in munitions procurement activities 
while on active duty, you should bear in mind while carrying out the duties 
fixed by your private employment that you remain subject to the restrictions 
fixed by title 18, United State Code, section 207. Section 207 (a) permanently pro- 
hibits retired Regular Army officers from knowingly acting as agents or attomev 
for anyone other than the United States in connection with any proceeding, ap- 
plication, contract, request for a ruling, or other particular matter involving a 
siiecific party or parties, in which the United States is a norty or has a direct and 
substantial interest, and in which they participated personally and substantially 
while on active duty. Section 207 (to) of the same title bars retired Regular Army 
officers, for one year after retirement from appearing personally as agent or 
attorney before any court or agency of the government for anyone other than the 
United States in connection with any proceedings, application, contract, or 
other particular matter involving a specific party or parties in which the United 
States is a party or directly and substantially interested, and which was under 
his official responsibility as an officer within one year prior to retirement. 

You are advised that the foregoing is advisory only, as the interpretation and 
enforcement of Federal statutes are matters for final determination by the 
Department of Justice and the Federal Courts. 

General Accounting Office personnel assisting the subcommittee in 
obtaining information on the M-16 procurement program were ad- 
vised by Colt’s officials that their records showed that General Lynde 
was hired as an executive consultant on August 1 . 1964. 

General Lynde testified before the subcommittee that he was em- 
ployed by Fairbanks Whitney, now Colt Industries, Inc., on August 
3, 1964, and since his employment, he had refrained from association 
with the M-16. 

Tiie General Accounting Office inquiry also disclosed a letter dated 
October 26, 1964, signed by General Lynde, as a retired general, to the 
L.S. Army procurement district requesting copies of four classified 
documents including one entitled “Comparative Effectiveness Evalu- 
ation of the AR-15, M-14.” 

The records at Colt’s also reveal General Lynde ’s name appearing 
on the distribution list for many intercompany memorandums involv- 
ing the M-16. 

Without passing judgment on the. legality of General Lynde’s activ- 
ities since becoming associated with the company producing a rifle 
contracted for by his immediate command while he was on active duty, 
the subcommittee does seriously question the wisdom of such action 
in view of the suspicion aroused by this type of association. It is ac- 
tions such as these that cause the American taxpayer to lose faith in 
the integrity of both military and civilian officials associated with the 
expenditure of millions of dollars yearly in the procurement of sup- 
plies and material to meet our military requirements. 

Several discrepancies are noted between the testimony of General 
Lynde and the facts obtained by the subcommittee : 


1. Chairman Ichord questioned General Lynde: “Did you approve 
the 1963 procurement, contract of the M-16 rifles from "Colt, Inc.?” 
His reply was that lie “appointed Brig. Gen. Roland B. Anderson as a 
contracting officer on a one-time basis to permit the award of con- 
tract.” . . . 

The record shows that General Lynde, as Commanding General of 
t He Army Weapons Command, approved the prices negotiated and di- 
rected the preparation of approval of award for submission to higher 
authority. The mere fact that he did not sign the contract as contract- 
ing officer does not mean that he did not participate in the negotiations 
right up to the eve of contract award. 

2. General Lynde testified and stated in his letter to the Adjutant 
General that he did not or would not engage in any activity with re- 
gard to the M-16 rifle where the U.S. Government would be directly 
involved, yet the record shows that on October 26, 1964, he requested 
from the U.S. Army a classified document which compared the effec- 
I iveness of the AR-15 with the M-14 rifle ; 

3. In spite of his assertion of no interest in the M-16 rifle activities, 
his name appears on distribution lists for intercompany memoran- 
dums involving the M-16 rifle; and 

4. The delay of 5 months between his retirement from the Army and 
his employment by the M-16 rifle producer would appear not to con- 
stitute a sufficient cooling-off period in view of the fact that the em- 
ployment offer was made before his date of retirement and, by his own 
admission, had to be accepted on or before March 15, 1964, 2 weeks 
after his retirement date. 


In accordance with a license and technical assistance agreement 
dated January 7, 1959, Colt’s acquired from Hiller Corp., Hagers- 
town, Md. (formerly Fairchild-Stratos Corp., and Fairchild Engi- 
neering & Airplane Corp.) the rights and licenses to make, to use 
and to sell the AR— 15 rifle in the United States and elsewhere in the 
world. As a consideration for the rights and licenses Colt agreed to 
pay Fairchild certain royalties as provided for in the agreement and 
a lump sum payment of $75,000. The agreement also committed Colt 
to the payment of royalties on all spare or replacement parts and 
components manufactured and sold by Colt. 

Cooper- M acdonald, Inc., Baltimore, Md., an authorized represent- 
ative of Colt for the sale of various Colt products throughout the 
world, was instrumental in consummating the agreement between Colt 
and Fairchild. For its efforts in securing this agreement. Cooper-Mac- 
donald obtained a fixed sum of $250,000 as a “finders fee” and a com- 
mission of 1 percent of the selling price of each rifle, spare parts, and 

Colt, according to its various agreements with Fairchild, is obligated 
to pay royalties on the selling price of weapons (rifles) and spare 
parts sold for military and commercial use. The current agreement be- 
tween Colt and Fairchild, dated April 1, 1963, grants Colt an exclu- 
sive right and license to make, use, and sell weapons ( rifles) and spare 
parts in the United States territory and to sell such weapons and 
spare parts throughout the world. Included in the agreement is a 
provision which requires Colt to pay the following: